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Richmond architects sue Petersburg hotel developer

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Developer Chris Harrison revealed plans for the property in 2015. (BizSense file photo)

PETERSBURG, Va. — The developer behind a planned $20 million conversion first proposed nearly two years ago for a dormant hotel in downtown Petersburg is facing a lawsuit from a Richmond architecture firm that says it hasn’t been fully paid for its services.

Shockoe Slip-based Commonwealth Architects has sued C.A. Harrison Cos., the Maryland-based firm leading the expected redevelopment of the nine-story former Ramada Inn along Interstate 95 into a hotel-anchored mixed-use development.

Commonwealth Architects, which had drawn up plans for the project when it was announced in late 2015, alleges it is owed $152,000 for services provided as part of a revised contract with C.A. Harrison that was signed in July 2016. The suit alleges breach of contract and seeks payment of $155,000 – described as the “reasonable value” of its services – plus interest and legal costs.

Plans presented at the 2015 project announcement called for a 125-room hotel, 100 apartments and upwards of 20,000 square feet of retail in five additional or renovated buildings lining Washington and Wythe streets, just west of I-95 at the end of the Exit 52 off-ramp. Richmond restaurant Mama J’s was signed on to open a second location in the development.

The existing nine-story, 125,000-square-foot hotel building would be turned into a Cambria hotel & Suites brand and resized, with the top two floors removed and additional footage added onto each side to make the 1973 building consistent with industry standards.

The project was estimated to cost between $20 million and $25 million overall.

Reached Thursday, C.A. Harrison principal Christopher Harrison said he had not been served with or seen the lawsuit, which was filed in Richmond Circuit Court on July 27.

“They’ve been trying to bill for services they didn’t provide, but I have all the information that would clear me on that, so I’m not worried about that,” Harrison said.

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