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Posted July 18, 2009 | Copyright © The Northern Virginia Daily
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Taylor Hotel may be condemned

old Taylor Hotel building
A pedestrian passes by the old Taylor Hotel building on North Loudoun Street in Winchester on Friday. An artist's rendering of the developer's plans for the dilapidated property, at right, is still posted outside. Dennis Grundman/Daily

City gives owner 30 days to submit improvement plan

By James Heffernan -- jheffernan@nvdaily.com

WINCHESTER -- The old Taylor Hotel on the downtown mall fits the city's definition of a "blighted property" and could be condemned if the owner fails to submit a plan for its improvement within 30 days.

In a letter Wednesday to developer Denver Quinnelly, Winchester Zoning and Inspections Administrator Vince Diem cites the property's "unfit and uninhabitable condition," including broken windows, a partial roof, lack of certain utilities and temporary support for the walls and balcony.

One of Quinnelly's companies, Lafayette Plaza LLC, bought the property at 119-129 N. Loudoun St. in 2007, with plans to convert it into a mix of upscale shops and condominiums. Soon after, the building's roof collapsed. The structure still sits vacant, and in March it was deemed unsafe by the city fire marshal.

Quinnelly said in a Friday e-mail that he had not yet received the letter, but has contacted the city and asked for a copy.

"After I receive the letter we plan to set up a meeting with the City to discuss what it means and our options and proposals and try to work toward an acceptable solution," he said.

Lafayette Plaza LLC is currently working with the Virginia Housing Development Authority to obtain financing for the restoration project, Quinnelly said, adding that he met with VHDA officials and Winchester Economic Redevelopment Director Jim Deskins about two months ago. The process could take up to six months, he said.

Quinnelly said another solution may involve tearing down the building, which would satisfy the city's concerns about blight.

The letter states that if Quinnelly fails to respond within 30 days with an acceptable spot abatement plan, the property would be declared blighted by ordinance.

According to recent amendments to the city code, the local government may exercise its powers of eminent domain to "hold, clear, repair, manage or dispose" of any blighted property at the owner's expense. The city may also choose to sell it to another developer.

Quinnelly has fallen on hard times since Ricketts Construction Co. Inc. went belly-up in late 2007.

In April, a bank foreclosed on seven of his unfinished residential subdivisions in the region, including Cedar Valley, a planned commercial and residential community on 82 acres along U.S. 11 north of Strasburg.

Another of his projects, the mixed-use Russell 150 development off U.S. 522 in Frederick County, which is slated to connect with Winchester's Tevis Street corridor, has stalled pending the completion of a four-lane flyover bridge across Interstate 81.

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