Last summer, River Heights Associates, a company largely controlled by Wendell Wood, filed suit in the Albemarle County Circuit Court against Regency Centers Corporation, DRG Development, and Hollymead Town Center (HTC) with an amended complaint containing eight counts alleging breach of contract. In September 2000, River Heights sold 44 acres located on Route 29N to DRG Development. Two years later, DRG assigned its interest to Regency Centers Corporation, a national owner, operator and developer of neighborhood and community shopping centers. That deal led to the eventual development of the Target shopping center.
A number of companies have hands in developing the Martian-esque landscape of the Hollymead Town Center, but they don’t always play nice in the Route 29N sandbox: Wendell Wood has filed a $3.5 million suit against several other developers.
The final closing date was in January 2004, and the trouble started soon after. One issue concerned the use of a letter of credit for $880,000. In the lawsuit complaint, Wood claims that HTC inappropriately withdrew the entire amount for Route 29 roadwork, despite his having recently paid $416,000 for the work.
On and on, the complaint goes with all sorts of allegations of contract breaches. Among the claims, Wood alleges that HTC improperly forced Wood to pay the entire costs for deceleration lanes and that HTC owes him $50,000 for rough grading he did.
The suit seeks compensatory damages of $3.1 million and punitive damages of $350,000. On August 16, 2006, Regency Centers filed a much briefer response, stating that there were no facts to support Wood’s claims. No court date has been set. Often in cases like this, matters are settled before court expenses can pile up.
What is perhaps most remarkable about the current legal action is that it’s the only one so far, considering the collection of regional and national developers that came together to build the Hollymead Town Center. In addition to the four named in this suit, three others are involved in the construction of the massive town center, still in its infancy.
Asked about the suit, Wood brushed off its significance: “It’s just two big dogs pissing at each other.”
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