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Richmond Rehabbers navigate legal trouble after HGTV debut

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Breese and Josh Romano in front of one of the homes they restored in Richmond’s Northside. A different house in Battery Park is the focus of the episode they filmed for HGTV. (Jonathan Spiers)

RICHMOND, Va. — Nearly a year since his public profile peaked with a starring role in a reality TV series pilot, a local house rehabber is now trying to salvage what’s left of his real estate business amid financial and legal troubles that have been mounting for months.

Josh Romano, whose Cobblestone Development Group was featured in last year’s HGTV “Richmond Rehabbers” pilot, says he is working to pay back money he owes subcontractors while his real estate holdings have been significantly reduced, with at least nine properties deeded back to lenders in lieu of foreclosure proceedings in recent weeks.

At least one other property has gone through foreclosure and back to the lender after a public sale. That property, a house in Richmond’s Northside, is the subject of an active lawsuit from a pair of former clients who are seeking compensation for costs they say they incurred when Romano didn’t complete their renovation.

Multiple vendors and subcontractors who have done work for Romano have gone after him for money through lawsuits and liens, and Romano has moved out of his rented Scott’s Addition office and warehouse space in an effort to cut costs. He also recently moved his real estate license from one brokerage to another – his third such move in the past two years.

He said he has moved his family six times in that same time period, and sold off personal property to cover expenses and help sustain the business.

The state of affairs is a far cry from this time last year, when Romano and his wife and business partner Breese were set to star in the HGTV pilot, which ultimately was not picked up for a series.

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