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Partners in O Street development at odds

In what has the makings of the next Church Hill shit-show, paperwork was filed on Monday, August 31, on behalf of local developer Deanna Lewis against her financial partners John Whitworth and Benedict Whitworth (PDF).

The trio have been partners since January 2014 on the renovation of a entire block of long-vacant houses on the 2500 block of O Street and the commercial building at 821 North 25th Street. Each have offered to buy the other out of the arrangement, alleging impropriety by the other. The lawsuit by Lewis lays out a list of complaints, including that the Whitworth’s have attempted to “tortiously steal” the business.

Perhaps the most scandalous allegation is that Mr.Whitworth hid his financial interest in the project during last year’s “Captain Buzzy’s vs Neighbors” lawsuit, when his ownership of a building intended to be developed as a restaurant could have been seen as tainting his motives in opposing the ABC licence for the Broad Street coffee shop. That lawsuit was dismissed in December 2014.

There’s more on RVA News and Richmond Magazine or just roll back through the posts tagged “Captain Buzzy’s”.

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A heads up: I’m going to be judicious about comments on this one. Please stay civilized.

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O St Development on sale! Take a look at the pictures of the transformation - Church Hill People's News | Richmond, VirginiaDevelopment back on track for O Street - Church Hill People's News | Richmond, VirginiaO Street properties now for sale - Church Hill People's News | Richmond, VirginiaG.Tim H Recent comment authors

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ray
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ray

Hayden Fisher!

Nagrom Morgan
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Nagrom Morgan

O o o o o o street.

Michael Latimer
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Michael Latimer

Hopefully everything will work out and focus on restoring these properties and the beauty of what it will become for our community and neighborhood will overshadow the disagreement. Glad these properties are being renovated!

Darrell Coffey
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Darrell Coffey liked this on Facebook.

Stephanie Gausby
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Stephanie Gausby liked this on Facebook.

Michael Latimer
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Michael Latimer

Michael Latimer liked this on Facebook.

jean mcdaniel
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jean mcdaniel

In October 2013, I sent a letter of complaint to the Church Hill Association about Misconduct of some Board of Directors of the Church Hill Association. The letter was , for all intents and purposes ignored and kept secret from the CHA membership.

I am resubmitting this letter and requesting that a point by point response be put in writing addressing each of my accusations.

Dana Bagby
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Dana Bagby

Shit-show. Wow.

Dana Bagby
Guest
Dana Bagby

The brickwork is nice, at least.

Brian Hall
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Brian Hall liked this on Facebook.

Sean Carlton
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Sean Carlton liked this on Facebook.

Doesn't Matter
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Doesn't Matter

Coming from someone who has seen that block in its worst form, to having met Deanna and her staff, closely followed and admired the great progress they have made to that location, it would be greatly unfortunate for all that beautiful work to go to waste. I definitely agree that I, too, would love to see that project finished.

crd
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crd

John Murden, have you thought about requiring posters to have some sort of breathalyzer attached their phone or computer prior to posting, and telling posters what limits are (or are not) allowed? Might help your moderation….

BAF
Guest
BAF

As someone who is across the alley from this, I hope they get this resolved quickly. Because of the halt in renovations, the places look worse than when they started. I understand that is a consequence of the work, but hope both sides can resolve this quickly so it is not a long-term mess for the neighborhood as the buildings stagnate further.

Eric S. Huffstutler
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Eric S. Huffstutler

I absolutely hate seeing this. I know from experience that friends and business often end in disaster. And if things have gotten to this point, there is usually no turning back and repairing the damage done. All one can hope for is that the two parties can make an amicable settlement and then someone somehow find a way to get these completed rather than left half done or worse, someone with lesser contracting skills botch the entire project.

Elizabeth Hogshire
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Elizabeth Hogshire liked this on Facebook.

Dave Seibert
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Dave Seibert

This is really too bad. I hope they can finish this project because they were doing a fantastic job.

sandi
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sandi

LOVE Deanna Lewis and have witnessed first-hand the hard work she and her crew have put in. What an amazing group of people! I am so impressed with their integrity and love for what they are doing. May this be resolved quickly!!!!

BAF
Guest
BAF

The only glimmer of light in this is that at least these properties are under one owner, even if the ownership interests are at war with one another. That should make it easy to transfer the entire parcel, if necessary, to someone who can get this done should the existing parties be unable to work this out. The leg work of buying each piece of this has been done.

BAF
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BAF

One more question. I thought a contract had been signed on the unit being renovated at the corner of O and 26th. If true, those folks are really hurt by this.

Eric S. Huffstutler
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Eric S. Huffstutler

I know of another project in limbo, where a relative of mine was engaged to build custom plantation shutters for all of the units. Not sure where that stands now either? It just goes to show that more than meets the eye is involved. Like suppliers, construction worker, plumbers, electricians, etc… jobs.

J.d. Hendrick
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J.d. Hendrick liked this on Facebook.

Eric S. Huffstutler
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Eric S. Huffstutler

@14 BAF, I wonder how that would work? If plans are laid out and certain contruction methods implemented, suppliers used etc… by one contractor doesn’t jive with another, what would the end result be? Especially someone like the person you suspect has a contract on a unit that I am sure blueprints were drawn up and in posession of the current contractor(s)? And the different cost factor as well.

Brandon
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Brandon

I hope these issues get resolved the work continues on this block. I hope this doesn’t impact the development of the property at 25th and O.

Eric S. Huffstutler
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Eric S. Huffstutler

No one can make a judgment as to what will actually happen until this is all said and done. And we can not place blame nor point fingers until we hear the counter suite. There are always two sides to a story and being that this is a lawsuit, of course it is going to paint a negative picture on the opposing party. There is no way to predict the outcome or if there will be a so-called “winner” and how they will progress with this project. Like others, I just hope it does not drag on and as I… Read more »

Matt Conrad
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Matt Conrad

Ditto, Brandon. This is a pity.

jamie
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jamie

Which party supplied this info to CHPN?

jean mcdaniel
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jean mcdaniel

It dosen’t matter who supplied this info to CHPN. It is a matter of public record and needs to be made available to the public.

Brett Feinstein
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Brett Feinstein
Mary Thompson
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Mary Thompson

The project needs to continue. I have heard some talk about the sales cost. I am definitely perturbed about high sales costs of property in our area. When we started revitalizing the neighborhood some years ago, our main focus was on providing affordable housing. To me, it’s now getting out of hand. Many of the persons who have purchased homes in the vicinity of “O” street financial status falls into the category of affordable homes. I’m sure that’s why they now reside in this area. Homeowners, what’s your take on this???

crd
Guest
crd

@24 Mary, what I got out of clicking on the link to Richmond Magazine (in the last sentence of John Murden’s introduction, above) is the quote from Ms. Lewis’s lawyer: “There’s huge profit margins in these properties,” says Hayden Fisher, a Richmond lawyer who is representing Lewis. “He’s trying to kick [Lewis] out because he wants them for himself.” From that, I take the opinion that it was not about, at least for her, affordable housing, but about profit margins. But that is just my opinion, nothing more. @23 Brett, the city assessor’s website shows that the property at 2525… Read more »

jean mcdaniel
Guest
jean mcdaniel

What is so wrong with making a profit based on honest hard work? Municipal entities are responsible for supplying “affordable” housing, not private developers.

I would not be able to purchase my home today. It has increased in value due to the turn around in the area and MY sweat equity!

Eric Huffstutler
Guest
Eric Huffstutler

Jean, when we purchased our house in 1999, it wasn’t even on the market but purchased from the seller after our hearing his plight through the grapevine. Several houses on the block were still blighted (all have been restored since) and the crime rate high. You couldn’t even get a food delivery on our block. But we had $30,000 in instant equity and it had only gone up exponentially the past 16-years due to the gentrification of our neighborhood.

Tim H
Guest
Tim H

Any updates (hopefully good) about this? I think we are all more interested in seeing the redevelopment of these properties continue, than we are about the minutiae of a partnership squabble.

BAF
Guest
BAF

Looks like this may have been resolved. I saw workers on the property at the corner of O and 25th this morning looking like they were doing more than basic maintenance.

jean mcdaniel
Guest
jean mcdaniel

BAF, if you see anymore work being done, you need to call the police. This has NOT been resolved and there are no valid work permits issued so any work being done is illegal.

G.
Guest
G.
trackback

[…] legal issues that halted the promising renovation of an entire side of the 2500 block of O Street (originally […]

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[…] announced in June of 2014 and later derailed for a bit, the O Street redevelopment between 25th and 26th is now back on track for this coming summer. John […]

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[…] for writers. There’s the old debate on gentrification and revitalization, there’s the drama of partners at odds with one another, then a very long 2-year lull with no news and an empty set of buildings. One day, back in November […]