The suit was filed on September 13, 2021 by Tim Norton v. Wilkins & Co. Realty, Inc. and Wilkins & Company Inc. Virginia in Danville.
The conclusion of the decision of U.S. District Judge Thomas D. Schroeder is that Norton’s claim is unfounded.
“This case depends on copied [false] Legal theories and speculations,” Schroeder wrote in his 52-page ruling that was filed on Tuesday.
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The lawsuit sought to cancel — or reverse — the Norton/Norhurst sale of the property to developer Ed Walker and the companies, RE Prospects and 2291 Schoolfield. If the court grants the annulment, Norton and Norhurst will replace Walker in a deal Walker later struck with the city.
Norton/Norhurst sold the property to Walker on November 20, 2019 for $987,740, then the City of Danville purchased it from Walker in December 2020. The property is currently the headquarters for the new police department.
Allegedly they [Norton/Norhurst] Schroeder wrote in his opinion that selling or renting the property to the city is at best speculation, and certainly not acceptable to the allegations of the amended complaint.
The defendants’ attorneys argued that the lawsuit was nothing more than a case of “seller’s remorse” on the part of Norton and Norhurst.
“We are pleased, but certainly not surprised, by the court’s decision,” said Hal Johnson, Walker’s attorney in Richmond, on Thursday.
State Senator Chapp Petersen, a Norton/Norhurst attorney, said he was “a little dumbfounded” by the judge’s dismissal of the case.
“It was a surprise to me,” said Petersen, de Fairfax.
He said that there were some distortions that occurred that led to the lawsuit.
“We plan to appeal,” Petersen said. “I want to talk to my clients about it.”
Buckner’s attorney, James Daniel, said he and his client had expected the lawsuit to be dropped.
“We didn’t feel there was any basis to file a case against Buckner,” Daniel said.
Buckner, a Danville City Council member and real estate agent with Wilkins & Co. , represented Walker in the deal and Hampton Wilkins represented Norton.
Walker told Danville Register & Bee on Friday, “The allegations were unfounded and untrue and this was a clearly ridiculous and grossly wasteful lawsuit. To my knowledge, no one involved has done anything illegal, improper or immoral. Or even doubtful.
He said he was proud of the police department’s well-deserved headquarters project. The campus there’ is second to none in the middle of the Atlantic.
“The citizens and police force of Danville will benefit for decades to come,” he said.
Walker, a lawyer, businessman and developer, bought the former website of the Danville Register and The Bee in South Union Street and turned it into a boutique hotel, The Bee. He also plans to convert the former Doctors’ Building across from Sutherlin Palace on Main Street into a boutique hotel.
He led the redevelopment of downtown Roanoke and was named 2014 Citizen of the Year by Roanoke City Council. Walker redeveloped the old Patrick Henry Hotel in Roanoke and renovated the city’s Department of Health building, converting it into West End Apartments.
He’s also been behind historic redevelopment projects across Virginia, in areas including Salem as well.
“I appreciate all the support I have received from hundreds of citizens and community leaders as we endure this unnecessary and unsuccessful lawsuit,” Walker said.
Relocation of the police department to a new headquarters