Norfolk developer strikes deal with Union Mission


Union Mission Ministries' downtown building is back under contract.

Developer Buddy Gadams has worked out a deal with the nonprofit for the iconic building at Boush Street and Brooke Avenue it formerly used as a homeless shelter. The sale price was not disclosed.

Gadams, president of Marathon Development, said he plans to transform the historical structure into luxury apartments and build a five-story building on an adjacent parking lot.

The agreement was reached less than two months after Union Mission's contract with Columbia, S.C.-based U.S. Development fell through. The company signed a contract to buy the building in 2009 but wasn't able to come up with $6 million to complete the sale.

The building was constructed in 1909 and was used as a YMCA for the Navy until 1972. It then became a homeless shelter.

The mission planned to use the proceeds from the sale to finish construction of a new shelter for homeless men.

Marathon Development now will complete inspections and surveys before the deal closes. Gadams said he plans to begin construction in April if the process goes smoothly.

The Union Mission building would be converted into about 90 luxury apartments, and the new building would have 46.

J. Lindsay Bilisoly, senior vice president of sales and leasing for Harvey Lindsay Commercial Real Estate, the firm representing Union Mission, said Gadams is "uniquely suited" to buy the building because of his experience with residential housing in downtown Norfolk.

"He has access to a great design team and financing, and he knows the market," Bilisoly said. "Buddy Gadams is creating a neighborhood downtown."

Marathon Development wrapped up construction inside the Wainwright building in October. The 126 apartment units were 90 percent leased by the end of November, Gadams said.

The company also has been working on the 19-unit Franklin Condominiums. Gadams said he plans to sell the units starting in late January.

Two buildings under construction near Granby, Freemason and Boush streets are set to be completed in early spring. They will have 137 high-end apartment units combined.

If Gadams closes the deal on the Union Mission building, he expects the project to be ready for tenants in the summer of 2015.

Mayor Paul Fraim, who has pushed for redevelopment of the building, said he met with the nonprofit's leaders recently and urged them to take Gadams' offer because he didn't know whether another offer would be made.

"It is important to the city that the project move forward," Fraim said.

Sarah Kleiner Varble, 757-446-2318, sarah.varble@pilotonline.com

Posted to: Business News Norfolk Realty News

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Deja vu all over again

Haven't we read this story before? Same players just a different address...

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Getting out?

Good luck to you, but wherever yo go you'll find the same shady politics and economic bedfellows.

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I thought this one was dead in the water. Glad it is back on track. Good for Norfolk.

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Mathematically analyzed to

Mathematically analyzed to give the customer as little as possible for the highest cost possible.

It's called capitalism and

It's called capitalism and the profit motive. Perhaps you think that doesn't run the economy in Northern Virginia, just in Norfolk.

This is bad, bad, bad for Norfolk.

I'm really hoping this is sarcastic. This is bad for Norfolk. More overpriced apartments in the downtown area is NOT what we need. There's already a surplus of "luxury living" in downtown Norfolk that's not being sold, which is why Gadams failed miserably the last time he cost the taxpayers of Norfolk a few million dollars to redevelop the land he mutilated into an empty grassy lot (which would have been better served as some kind of public park space). Businesses downtown are failing because the city chokes every dime out of people coming downtown for parking as is (and let's not forget the bulk 6 month fee residents of downtown have to pay so they can park somewhere vaguely near their residence).

It's not bad for Norfolk. If

It's not bad for Norfolk. If it's bad for anyone it's Gadams who stands to lose money. Redeveloping that building can only be a good thing. Otherwise, it just sits empty.

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The facts don't support your

The facts don't support your claim and you are being a little unfair to Gaddams. Granby Tower failed because the Federal Court intervened at the last minute and claimed eminent domain over the land; by the time the dust settled the housing market was in free fall. That doesn't seem to me to be a failure of Gaddams' doing. He also seems to be doing quite well with the Wainwright pretty much fully leased already.

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There was random drive by

There was random drive by commentary on another forum hinting that the entire idea of Granby Tower was to boost the "value" of the property so it would be a quick flip to the government for more money. Buy property, market condos, government buys it out for quite a bit more.

No idea who or what, but it seemed liked an interesting twist.

Other excellent posts on there mention how the pilings driven into the ground then abandoned really mess the property up for the next owner.

"Interesting twist"? More

"Interesting twist"? More like ridiculous conspiracy theory. Anyone who visited the Granby Tower model saw it for what it was - a high end condo project. It just got caught - like many, many other projects throughout the country - in the housing collapse. For someone to think that it was some elaborate scheme to flip property does not have any awareness of reality or history of this story.

It was during the hot time

It was during the hot time of flipping condos. It was pitched, the government didn't buy the property and the condo thing went forward. No financing, then slow progress. Then piles were finally driven by people who probably weren't paid for their work, then fail.

He didn't have any projects on that scale at the point in time, but sure risk versus reward.

I still remember the Pilot Online article with all the people signed up to buy condos. Of those interviewed I think every one of them were in a career field directly tied to the speculative bubble driven by easy (and fraudulent) credit.

The same one that still has yet to pop. What's gonna happen when the banks actually admit their losses?

Can you produce an amount

Can you produce an amount that he cost taxpayers? Or are you going by your assumptions? He wasn't supposed to get anything unless he finished the project. Did he finish it? Did I miss something? Please enlighten us. "A few million" isn't exactly definitive. Why don't we just say "a few billion"? How about a gazillion?

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It may.....

....make for an interesting read as it plays out. A little light entertainment is always a good thing.


I'm always amazed at the SAME negative people that say the same old crap everytime a developer such as Buddy Gadams wants to invest HIS money in a downtown project. I suggest you walk down Granby Street and ask the business and restaurant owners how they feel about bringing more people to the area. I personally think the City is not doing enough to promote the downtown businesses, dropping the parking fees from Friday night to Sunday morning would be a great start. On the Union Mission deal, I suppose instead of having a restored, useful place for people to live, YOU people would rather have a big crumbling vacant building that eventually the city will have to pay someone to tear it down, then you can have something else to complain about

It's touching to see someone

It's touching to see someone who's not familiar with Buddy Gadams, or possibly is and is playing the loyal supporter, to speak up in favor of this. Buddy's not dumping his money into these projects. If he were, then he wouldn't be able to do this since the last "luxury living" development he failed at after destroying the property saw all the contractors who worked for him having to sue for the money he owed and refused to pay them. Also, Gadams wasn't financially responsible for the mess he left behind at his fine "Granby and Brambleton hole in the ground". The city stepped in and paid the bill for site restoration (incidentally, the same idiots in office now). When the building's gutted and Buddy abandons the building, then what?

Hole in the ground?

Shows what you know: buildings constructed in this area don't start with a "hole in the ground" where their foundations are poured. They are built on pilings pounded into the ground. So there never was a hole in the ground at Granby and Brambleton.

A small detail perhpas, but it shows that your accusations and comments are based on hyperbole and exageration, not fact.

Speaking of facts, do you have any clue how any of Gadams' projects have been financed? How is it you "know" that he is "not dumping his money into these projects"? Is someone sharing the projects' financing details with you? Please let us know, as I think it only fair that you back up your accusations.



Eh there is kind of a hole in the ground, and that was early.

How soon we forget

Does Granby Towers ring a bell?

So how much will the Taxpayers be on the hook for this time?

HEY, does anyone realize: It's 2013 and there's STILL not a 3rd anchor at MacArthur Mall.

Oh Yeah, we forgot about that.
Dancing with the Stars was on.

Does the Stock Market Crash,

Does the Stock Market Crash, Real Estate Crash, Bank Crash and Wall Street Crash ring any bells? The market collapsed and no one was lending any money. Ring a bell?

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Jeez la weez

Get it right ..it was Granby Tower not Towers...

Your point?

Who cares what it was called, it was a failure, and the taxpayers were on the hook to fix the mess he created.

Care to offer a response to the question?
OR fill in the blank for his comment regarding macmall?

Taxpayers on the hook?

That seems to be the accepted wisdom, but I've not seen any proof of that. The whole deal got put on hold when the taxpayers, via their representatives in the Federal government, decided they needed that site for a courthouse expansion and let it be known they were going to try to take it via eminent domain. Seems to me the taxpayers got what they wanted.

Such revision of fact and chronology

I have already spoken to this issue so I don't feel compelled to write the history we all truly know. Still unnerved pilot can be muscled by the politically vested to cover over their misdeeds.I will say, I will be more then happy to put my name in the proper setting to revealing glaring truths in regards to all the aspect I mentioned earlier. This will come soon. Much of what I spoke to can be found in earlier articles by the pilot on the situation since 2004-3005 and onward to near past.

I might be missing something

I might be missing something here but do tell me where a 3rd anchor is supposed to go in the mall.

Comments like these are

Comments like these are typical on this site. They're anti-gubmint, anti-Norfolk, anti-everything. None of what you talk about has anything to do with this story. Heck, why don't just blame the traffic light on the corner of Colley and 21st Street too? Or the restaurant you ate at in Chesapeake last week? Or the School Board in Va. Beach? I'm shocked that there are no light rail comments. Did you usual posters get tired of saying the same things over and over? Heck, this whole thing must be Obama's fault. Or Dubya's. Whew.

The greening of downtown

From a YMCA to a Union Mission to luxury apartments-such social progress.


From the YMCA/UM/SOCIAL PROGRESS WHERE, Do U really believe the billboard that UM can feed the homeless $1.98. having been there the truth is in fine print. Grits and coffee for $1.98 please. May be the cost to feed those in the PROGRAMS offered by UM that enjoy a much better breakfast/dinner. that is called the discipleship program that is created by man not by JESUS. check it out vapilot for the fine print.It's not Social progress, Social stigma that the homeless endure while at the UNION MISSION. Of course the mayor and UM leadership
will enjoy the monies from the sale. The present new facilities behind
schedule and not due to monies
Remember all things donated

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I have a theory on that Mr. Wizard

There's still a rogue moderator or two left in the VP ranks who deletes at the drop of the hat, with little rhyme or reason.

I have an outward suspicion that it may be a Patrick Wilson, but then I rely on ESP sometimes with uneducated and conspiracy based guesses landing in left field.

Very disappointing Pilot

Not only is the Pilot in refusal of history they placate to those seeking to cover over the misdeeds within the ruling class. All of the political or business cronies mentioned in specific posts are public figures. If the pilot refuses to investigate these matters at the very least, you could at least not curtail fact's of community members to airing on the board. We clearly have no separation in the vested interests political figures and their chosen business entities as well as certain politically motivated judges but many of us had hoped for independent journalism. Some semblance of open forum.

You repeatedly claim a link

You repeatedly claim a link between Gaddams and US Development but when challenged multiple times here, you refuse to offer anything that substantiates your claims. Either put up or shut up is how my father used to say it.

Respectfully, I did....Pilot refused to post

Respectfully, I did...Pilot refused to post which is why I wrote of my dismay with removing said information. Perhaps they will investigate what is obvious. I don't dare speak of it now lest my ability to convey that I'm willing to do so by your challenge is not at least met with response. However, there are other channels to bring forward these truths and in its good time I will do so. Have a good day

A city in love with developers and disassociated with it's peopl

How many of those high-rise apartments on the south side of Brambleton are presently filled? Driving by today they seemed to scream vacancy.

And a second question, who in their right mind would want to live there? A bird's eye view of the never ending traffic on Brambleton, how lovely.

disassociated with all else

I assume you mean Belmont at

I assume you mean Belmont at Freemason. Their website shows six units available between both buildings. That's very low.

The companies that run the

The companies that run the larger projects know how to play the game, and they will claim there is a low number of units to drive a quicker lease. Who knows how many of the units are really occupied. Tough to tell, especially given that military often rent and go out to sea for 6 months or whatever.

They also price fix to competitors, locking up the market.

Seems to be? That's

Seems to be? That's convincing. The Wainwright is 90% leased, and it hasn't even open yet.

I don't understand...

How is this a bad thing? Why would you rather let the building rot and become dilapidated rather than seeing it turn into a productive, taxable piece of real estate? Why is it bad that someone wants to invest in your city?

Also, where does anybody get the idea that US Development and Gadams are cohorts? I follow these things closely, and I have never seen them linked at all. Where is the supporting evidence?

Until somebody can answer these questions, I am all for this. I love that building and I want to see it restored. I think it is great for Norfolk.

Unfortunately, this thread

Unfortunately, this thread is full of commentary by armchair quarterbacks with an overabundance of conspiracy theories and severe lack of business acumen.

I also might add, it is pretty unfair to espouse this

I also might add, it is slanted to espouse your last post when there is someone at Pilot shouldering to filter pertinent information where one side is stymied. You yourself have denied what is correct in other's statement regarding chronology of the Granby tower. You don't have an upper hand when dissenting voices are not given equal manner to express. Lets take the example of Granby tower's history and go back to your statements, review all the history there collusive to Bank of Commonwealth as well as the city. End with the deserving mea culpa and then do as I, patiently await the further aspects where independent review of matters actually is just.

Please explain the relevance

Please explain the relevance of Granby Tower to this project. Thanks.

People here want the city to

People here want the city to do nothing, let the building fall into disrepair, watch it become unsalvageable, demolish the building, and then be criticized for tearing down another historic building. Amusing.

Take pictures and a 3d

Take pictures and a 3d model, then demolish the thing.

Frankly...Who Cares If Buddy Has A Link With Dave Bryant !

Business is Business...We're talking about sets of drawings that are mid six figures at least. And the lack of knowledge shown by US Development is evidenced by their 1.65M closed purchase of the Tilting Building @ 161 Granby. This project needs to get done and Marathon can do it..

Gadams still owes local workers $14,000,000 on last project

Gadams last project remains an eyesore and was never completed because Gadams didn't have the money. Gadams fleeced local workers and subcontractors of $14,000,000 last time.

Why should he be trusted again?

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