September 19, 2011
As the Landmark Hotel sits half complete on the Downtown Mall, a judge in federal bankruptcy court granted a third extension Monday to Halsey Minor, who started the construction process on the still unfinished hotel.
The judge decided to grant the extension after Minor's attorneys brought forth a new developer who says he has plans for the rusting structure.
“Boutique hotels right now are becoming very popular,” said Tim Dixon, who was recently named Boutique & Lifestyle Lodging Association Hotelier of the Year. “People are looking for experiences that are out performing the brand hotels.”
Dixon explained his plans to the judge and attorneys for the Specialty Finance Group (SFG), which is the bank that financed the initial construction process of the Landmark Hotel. SFG representatives say this is just another attempt to prolong an already lengthy bankruptcy process, but Minor's attorneys disagree.
“As the judge says, there's a ray of hope and we want to seize that hope and transfer it into a complete hotel,” said Richard Maxwell.
Dixon owns the Iron Horse Hotel in Milwaukee, which was named Hotel of the Year by Boutique & Lifestyle Lodging. He's confident he'll turn around the unfinished structure in Charlottesville just as he did the Iron Horse.
“The building itself, the location is almost recognizable, it's almost exactly what we did in Milwaukee,” said Dixon, who has only four months to come up with design plans and present them to the court.
George Benford, owner of Siips Wine & Champagne Bar, says Monday's announcement is welcomed news, saying, “Well, of course having more luxury hotel rooms and more hotel rooms on the Downtown Mall is a benefit to everyone on the Mall.”
However, before any work can begin on the idle structure, Minor must get out of bankruptcy and financing needs to be in place. Both are easier said than done in these tough economic times.