Start calling it the Dewberry.
The shell of what was to be the Landmark Hotel was sold at auction in a Charlottesville courtroom Monday morning to a property developer from Atlanta who paid $6.25 million for it, and hopes to make Halsey Minor’s failed project the second of a string of boutique luxury hotels.
John Dewberry, owner of Dewberry Capital, appeared in person to place the winning bid in the auction, which lasted less than five minutes and involved only two bidders. Lee Danielson, long expected to make another attempt at owning the stalled hotel, failed to provide evidence he had the financial backing to support the minimum $3 million bid and never made it to the table. Omni Hotel Group parent company TRT Holdings met the minimum, but declined to move forward with the auction once Dewberry upped the ante to $3.5 million.
A former quarterback for Georgia Tech who was born in Waynesboro, Dewberry said his firm has primarily built shopping centers and urban high-rises. He and his brother started planning to get into the boutique hotel market several years ago when they bought a hurricane-battered and long-neglected building in downtown Charleston. They’re moving ahead on that hotel, he said—the first Dewberry—and hope to start work on their new Charlottesville project within a year.
Dewberry said the Downtown Mall property had piqued his interest years ago, but the legal quagmire surrounding the Landmark turned him off.
"I’m the kind of guy who’s happy to step outside and settle it in an ally," he joked, "but I hate lawsuits."
He said he’s looking forward to the chance to bring an "understated elegance" to the property, and plans to add 55 rooms to the original 100-room concept.
"It’s kind of like buying a horse," said Dewberry, whose family races thoroughbreds in Ireland. "You always feel good the day you buy."