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Springfield's 9th and Main: Curse or Con?

How Folio's Man of the Year, Craig Van Horn Became Springfield's Greatest Liability (and conned hundreds of thousands of dollars for his failing real estate empire)

Published February 22, 2008 in Opinion      74 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article


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Largely through the active sponsorship of Rita Reagan, Craig Van Horn developed an early reputation for being the "Poster Child" of the Springfield redevelopment. Its symbol and hero. There wasn't really any particular reason for this, except that he looked the part and had a positive message that dovetailed nicely with the New Urbanist ethos that drove the early days of the neighborhood's recovery. Certainly he didn't own the most properties: Even back then, Mack Bissette's group, represented by Tom Purdy had the largest inventory.

He didnt have the most exciting projects either.. Michael Trautmann had been in the neighborhood for a few years and had enacted a few stunningly tasteful renovations, including his own home on 5th Street across from the equally gorgeous Wolfson Mansion owned by Michael and Paige Dampier.

He clearly wasnt the best funded, nor had he placed the most new families in the Springfield environs. Both of those honors belonged to Kevin Gay from Operation New Hope and Fresh Ministries, whose early work had already established Operation New Hope as the most earnestly devoted to change and had even gained the recognition and praise of the most fundamentally uncaring white house in recent American History.

But Craig was young, had a winning smile, and one hell of a PR operation... meaning that he swept the Little Old Ladies at SPAR (referred to affectionately as the LOLAS) pretty much off their feet.

He started with a solid block of homes on Laura Street, which he had purchased for between 5 and 20 thousand dollars apeice. He came to St. Augustine in 1999, merging his Georgia based Symbiosis LLC into a Florida operation. Using the profits from a home renovated in the Little Five Points District in Atlanta, Van Horn hoped to cash in on the possibility of a similar gentrification in Jacksonville Florida. As a result of initiatives from the city, Springfield seemed the most likely candidate... and the prices definitely couldn't be beat.

Craig's sister had preceded him into Springfield in a large home on Laura Street, cross cornered from Rita Reagan's own home.

With that as an anchor, Craig had acquired all of the property south of her home for under 200 thousand.

The homes were substandard and in poor repair. This was hardly unique to Van Horn as the entire neighborhood was in the same state of disrepair, but because Craig's properties were all adjacent, his tenants were able to network and discuss with each other. They threatened to take their complaints to the city and presented Craig with an ultimatum.

Craig responded by utilizing the cities facade renovation grants to fix up the exteriors and by evicting the tenants.

Despite the hard luck to the complaining tenants, the neighborhood was pleased with the visible results. Freshly painted exteriors, and wholesale eviction of many of the lower income residents.

With Rita Reagan in control of SPAR, Craig was a made man. (http://sparcouncil.org/old_site/March-April 2005.pdf )

(page 12, break out the bubble gum and bobby socks)

Van Horn arrived late to the Commercial Real Estate game in Springfield, but it was probably inevitable that he would throw his hat in. Starting in 2002, Main Street redevelopment had become a hot topic as the attention to the neighborhood centered on the shops, restaurants, clubs and other enterprises drawn to Springfield during a general shift of arts based businesses to the neighborhood. At Reagan's invitation, Van Horn attended an exploratory committee meeting of an umbrella of Arts Organizations and made contacts, hoping to find residential tenants for his dilapidated properties.

He was met with a demand for studio spaces, and was in the process of procuring 8th Street properties in advance of the Better Jacksonville Plan mandated renovations.

He placed Steve Williams and Jim Draper from Pedestrian Studios, Dr. Terry Netter, a noted painter and the Dean of Fine Arts at Jacksonville University, and Tonya Lee an adjunct professor at UNF in properties on Pearl Street.

He then acquired both an old Deco Church and the old Firestone Station at the corner of 9th and Main. Reputedly the sale price was under a hundred thousand for the structures combined.

In the meantime, Boomtown, Eden, Epicurean, The Pizza Factory, The Muse Cafe, The Lee Harvey Gallery, The Carter, Klutho's Jazz Club and several galleries, including Diallo's and Picket and Watts had opened on Main Street.

Craig sought financial aid from the Northwest Economic Development Trust Fund, a fund set aside specifically to create economic opportunities for minority owned or operated businesses in order to renovate the property.

In order to comply with the requirements of the aid, Van Horn had to demonstrate that he had contracts in place that would allow him to repay the loan amount. He approached a few of the arts based businesses to sign letters of intent to show that the property, if renovated, would be income producing. To that effect, Boomtown signed two separate letters of intent to lease the space----one for a place to be called "Einstein's Revenge", and another portion of the space to establish a film and video editing studio. http://www.jaxdailyrecord.com/showstory.php?Story_id=1214

Van Horn took the letters of intent and was able to secure funding for the renovation of the building.

Once 9th and Main was opened however, Van Horn decided not to honor the committment for leases signed with Boomtown.

He instead announced that he had also engaged a group of cloggers to simultaneously rent the space, explaining that he had no idea that the letters of intent had meant a 'dedicated' lease---a nonsensical phrase meaning something like a timeshare lease except on a daily basis.

Ultimately, he decided to open a theater/cafe along the same lines as Boomtown Theater and Cafe, which was to be called "Henrietta's", named after Henrietta Dozier, an intriguing a rare female architect from the turn of the century who had been an associate of Henry Klutho----historic especially to the Springfield neighborhood. http://www.jacksonville.com/tu-online/stories/011403/bus_11463334.shtml http://jacksonville.bizjournals.com/jacksonville/stories/2005/04/18/smallb1.html

Henrietta's opened to much fanfare, with a management group composed of Craig, Kevin Hayes, and all the menu design and execution done by Dave Witt and Justin Watkins.

Watkins had already established himself as a pivotal young figure in the early Springfield environment. Engaged to Ingrid Green, (who with her sister Stephanie, also partnered with Van Horn to form a company called Streetscapes), his mother Vickie Watkins was the executive director of The Sanctuary, a not for profit youth center located at the old Post Office on 8th Street. In partnership with Fresh Ministries, Vickie had renovated the historic building when it had been abandoned by the US Postal Service.

For Lunchtime, Henrietta's was a smash hit. Dave's spicy comfort food menu and the friendly young service made it quite a success with lunches, sometimes bringing in sales of several thousand dollars a day.

In fact all the attention garnered Folio Weekly's highest form of recognition: He was featured on its cover as Folio's Man of the Year, and inside credited for singlehandedly reviving the Springfield Area with his Superpowers and magical Arts Developer Wand. Yes, they were heady days for the enterprising Mr. Van Horn.

It was then that the money irregularities began, and the pattern of swindling followed by closings followed by restarts, new swindlings, and new closings established itself. Wash Rinse, Repeat.

Stealing Money from Henrietta's

Dave Witt and Justin Watkins had operated Henrietta's for almost two years. Finally, suddenly, they walked out, taking with them most of the employees, all of the recipes, and much of the early good will Craig had accrued with the neighborhood.

Justin Watkins I guess it was that he lied so much to us and stole the money.

MetroJacksonville What do you mean? How did he steal the money.

Justin Watkins Well he kept taking the money out of the (Henrietta's) accounts and using it on his real estate projects--if streetscapes needed money he would spend it on streetscapes, (the real estate company owned by Craig and partners) and if Symbiosis (Craig's Main LLC) needed it he would give it to them. He spent a bunch of money buying them signs"

And we worked for our part of the equity in the business, and then after we had done the work he told us 'no thanks, not interested'.

MetroJacksonville What do you mean? You guys had an oral agreement to trade all that work for a share but----"

Justin Watkins "No we had a contract, all written out, and then he just refused to honor it."

MetroJacksonville "Why didn't you sue him?"

Justin Watkins "We didn't have the money to, simple as that."

MetroJacksonville "Do you still have the contract"

Justin Watkins "Yeah."

Even while Henrietta's was experiencing a rush of success, Craig was dipping into the accounts. The partnership agreements that he had entered into with Witt and Watkins provided for them to have a split of the profit. Normally, ongoing accounting would simply deduct the costs of operating the restaurant from the total sales and then divided up amongst the partners.

But Craig began writing large checks from the accounts of Henrietta's to pay for real estate expenses, including almost a hundred thousand dollars taken from the restaurant that he used to pay for the renovation and build out of the bar and theater portion of 9th and Main. A portion that Van Horn made clear was not going to be used by Henrietta's.

One of those businesses was opened over the objections of Witt and Watkins months before their split with Van Horn by Deborah Neary, who had a similar experience with Van Horn. Neary, a resident of Springfield had moved to the neighborhood from Washington State where she had run a successful gift and coffee shop for many years. She was one of the founding management team of the Epicurean Cafe, when the restaurant opened up as primarily a high end coffeehouse and organic food store. After leaving the Epicurean Craig Van Horn offered her an opportunity at 9th & Main, where she opened up the Espresso Cafe, a coffeebar and deli sandwich outfit that featured Boars Head deli products and premium coffees.

Cafe Espresso is referenced here in a cached post on Urbanjacksonville.info. Also it is referenced in Rita Reagans breathy little paean to Craig linked above. http://www.urbanjacksonville.info/2006/07/21/where-is-the

The experience with Van Horn left her with a very bitter taste in her mouth.

"Well basically, he screwed me over with the way he did it."

"Originally he told me that I was going to be a partner in the space, and we wrote out a contract for the whole thing, but it didnt end up happening that way, and in the end I was just an employee and he fired me. Of course, when I went to file for unemployment, he tried to say I wasnt an employee after all. But when they looked into it, it turned out that I was an employee and he hadnt filed any of the proper paperwork and I was then able to get my claim."

"I laid out the floor plan and all of that side... I'm looking through papers, and here are the equipment lists and all... lets see, I was supposed to get 25% of the profits or something like that, with a contribution of 300 dollars of month for the space. At that point he must've been planning to put a bar in there the whole time, because he excluded me from being able to sell beer and wine on that side, so I was just able to sell coffee drinks and sandwiches and some food items. Of course when I got in there, he changed the whole thing and suddenly my 'contribution' was supposed to be $1,500 a month instead of the three hundred... and I'm just a little coffeeshop. --- and we had had it all written out. I was going to get a base pay of $1,500 a month, and then a percentage of what he called the 'contribution. And then I had to pay for the space. There was no way that I would ever get any profit share at all with the new terms that he gave me. So I ended up being an employee. Then when he screwed over Dave and Justin and they ended up walking out, he got rid of me by firing me, but then claiming I wasn't an employee."

But I never got paid what we agreed on and the contract just ended up never panning out."

The end of both enterprises came with the demand on the part of Witt and Watkins to be vested with their contractually guaranteed equity in the restaurant---meaning that Van Horn had guaranteed in writing to give the duo a greater share of the business based on their labor. After they lived up to their part of the bargain, they approached Van Horn to deliver on his part. Van Horn declined and announced that he was in negotiations to sell the restaurant outright.---an announcement that came as a shock to the two.

Within a week, Van Horn began constructing a separate entrance to the establishment and made clear his intention to open a competing restaurant adjacent to Henrietta's. (An additional surprise to Deborah Neary at the Expresso Cafe---since she was already occupying the space in question)

Confronted with Van Horn's refusal to honor the contract, Witt and Watkins quit.

Retailers forced out of Business and the formation of "The New Springfield"

In the meantime, Van Horn's ventures into commercial real estate were having disastrous results--especially to the group of tenants occupying his spaces.

Continuing with the practice of facade renovations on buildings which were otherwise unimproved, Van Horn leased out spaces to Tonya Lee who opened up a shop called "Roost", a fitness instructor James Peoples who opened up a gym and fitness facility and Dean Terry Netter, the venerable leader of the Fine Arts College at Jacksonville University for many years. Netter opened up a painters studio across the street from Roost. (http://www.jacksonville.com/tu-online/stories/082103/bus_13328008.shtml )

A short time later, both spaces were closed due to the seperate collapse of the ceilings and roofs, and in Netter's case, the destruction of many paintings and loss of art supplies.

In all, five small businesses opened and were closed, losing their entire start up costs in the process.

Van Horn managed to avoid a scandal by razing the buildings and announcing a bold new development plan which he intimated included a Starbucks and several businesses hotly desired by the Springfield neighborhood. Van Horn was given the benefit of the doubt and retained an architectural firm to execute drawings for the development of the properties, dubbing this next phase of his attempts "The New Springfield", even initiating a website: thenewspringfield.com.

The entire project ended up being a red herring. Not even the architects were paid despite months and months of work and detailed schematics produced for the project.

With the departure of Dave Witt, Justin Watkins and Deborah Neary, the stage was set for the next set of victims: Neighborhood pioneers, Carlos and Cherrise Stein.

The Steins came up with the 5 digit fee demanded by Van Horn to purchase Henrietta's.

They were out before anyone really realized they were there, and with them the oversold 'partnership shares' of Henrietta's were gone.

Breaking the Steins.

One egregious complaint arising from Van Horn's management of the contracts with Henrietta's was the Rent that he was charging Henrietta's LLC.

Craig owned 51% of the business, the rest being divvied up amongst the partners. His claim to this percentage was his ownership of the building itself. Despite taking 51% for owning the space, he still charged the restaurant an outrageous six thousand dollars a month. This was only revealed after he had signed the papers (with himself) as the majority partner of Henrietta's to lease the Space from 9th and Main LLC.

When Carlos and Cherrise Stein "bought' Henrietta's, they signed a new lease with Van Horn setting the rate at five thousand a month for the restaurant space, and on the basis of possible investment from a cousin in South Florida, he signed an additional lease for the rest of the space including the new theater and Bar--also for five thousand dollars a month.

The Steins refinanced their beautiful home in Springfield in order to open their own restaurant and gave Craig in excess of fifty thousand dollars in order to purchase the business. None of this purchase money was split with his 'partners' Witt, Watkins or Hayes despite the fact that they apparently owned the shares sold by Van Horn.

Before long, Carlos found it necessary to open a seperate bank account that Craig did not have access to in order to deposit sales from the restaurant. This was the beginning of interference from Van Horn. The investment from the cousin to open a nightclub did not materialize and the Steins canceled their lease on the 'club' side of the building.

Cherrise, now divorced and working at an educational facility, said,

"I wouldn't suggest anyone have anything to do with anything Craig Van Horn has any involvement in whatsoever. Hes a liar and a cheat and a really good salesman.

He puts this huge sense of urgency on everything----everything has to be finished YESTERDAY!....he bullies people into quick deals and then they are screwed."

"We put up this enormous amount of money and refinanced our house to do it. We installed the oven that he has there and he set it up for us to fail. At one point he even went in and stole all the liquor out of the closet that we had purchased, claiming it as 'back rent' for the club that never opened. He is nothing but a cheat."

Van Horn relentlessly pursued the Steins, placing a lien against their home. Within short order the Steins were bankrupt, the restaurant was closed and their home was taken in foreclosure. It was only then that Cherrise discovered that he had pursued their home in payment for 'back rent' on the space they had never opened.

Next up to bat, Chef Scott Jacobson, and the formation of NOSH.

The Times Union carried a story by Dan McDonald on March 31st, 2006 ( http://www.jacksonville.com/tu-online/stories/033106/enm_2492368.shtml )

Here's some news to nosh on. Nosh, at the corner of Ninth and Main Streets in Springfield, has replaced Henrietta's. Co-owners Craig Van Horn and chef Scott Jacobson are introducing an interesting lunch/dinner concept.

The concept of NOSH took off. and the local blogs and publications were filled with positive reviews of the new restaurant.

click here (http://youtube.com/watch?v=eQ3CXKXDlSk ) for a badly lit interview with Craig Van Horn, who identifies himself as a co-owner of nOSH.

Ingrid Green, a former partner of Van Horn's told MetroJacksonville.

"NOSH was really great! I didn't want to like the place after what Craig did to Justin and Dave, but it was really wonderful. I warned Scott what would happen, but he kept telling me that Craig wouldn't dare screw him over. That he had it all handled and there was no way that Craig could cheat him.

The food was AWESOME!, and I just ended up loving it. I thought to myself, 'THIS is going to work."

But then suddenly Craig screwed him over too."

 Van Horn, who refers to Jacobson as "little Napoleon" demanded that Jacobson, an accomplished Chef with fusion sensibilities return to the burgers and fries menu of Henrietta's including the 'Van Horn Burger" referenced in Joey Marchy's video blog.

On June 8th, 2006, Dan McDonald's column announced the firing of Scott Jacobson less than three months after he was identified as an 'Owner'.

Jacobson was given nothing in return for his partnership shares, no profit sharing, no severance, no buyout.

Despite the increasingly familiar ring of this strategy: selling people on their ownership of the restaurant, then later identifying them as an 'employee' and firing them when new "investors" came along--this did not prevent new 'owners' Jeff and Erika Ware of Crush Bistro from getting taken in hook line and sinker.

In the meantime things had begun to sour with Streetscapes.

His partnership with Ingrid Green began on a pretty equal basis according to the pleasant and attractively blond young woman who was one of the early fans of Van Horn. However, it quickly became apparent that Van Horn had no intention of actually doing any of the work leaving Ingrid to try and manage the office while actively selling and marketing the properties that they had listed.

According to Green.

"So I told him that I couldn't do everything by myself and make it work, and he said why don't you hire Stephanie (Ingrid's talented and vivacious sister) to manage the place and we'll go a third/third/third (referring to percentages of the company).

So Stephanie came to work and she did all the graphic designs for the signs, built the web pages and managed the office. But then after she had already done all the work, we couldn't get Craig to sign any of the papers to give her her share."

Ingrid recounts that Van Harn began dipping into their bank accounts, removing money to pay for expenses in his other businesses.

"We would get this huge commission check for like six thousand, and we would go to cut a check for the agent, and there wouldn't be any money in the account from Craig having already spent it.

I have to give him credit, he was pretty good at replacing the money so that we could pay the agents, but it was crazy that he was taking the money. When Sam came into the business he put an end to it."

Eventually the level of trust between the Green Sisters and Van Horn had been so eroded that they decided to sell the company to another realty outfit.

"Thats when Craig really screwed us." I didn't find out until after they had already written it, that they had given a fifteen thousand dollar down payment check to Craig.

So I went in and talked to him and said, You need to give me my share of that money Craig, he told me that he owned fifty one percent of the company and that it didn't matter since 'the money was already spent'. So basically he just stole that fifteen thousand and that was the end of it.

Then he refused to recognize Stephanie's share of the money. He took 51 percent of the remaining money and I had to split my 49 % with my sister.

Illegal Liquor Sales at nOSH

Meanwhile back at the restaurant, Jeff and Erika Ware of Crush Bistro in Riverside had assumed control of nOSH, only to find things as shady and chaotic as all who had preceded them.

By July 21st, a little more than a month after they arrived, UrbanJacksonville posted that 9th and Main had lost its liquor liscense. Responses to the post revealed that the business hadn't actually had a liquor liscense at all, but had been using the leftover SRX liscense originally acquired by Henrietta's

http://www.urbanjacksonville.info/2006/07/21/nosh-no-beer-no-wine-no-fun/

It was only then that the 9th & Main LLC acquired a legitimate liscense to sell alcohol.

Meanwhile Lisa Thomas from Thee Imperial had taken over booking events and bands at the space.

After the departure of the Crush team, the restaurant went through a dizzying exchange of 'owners' and 'managers' including a stint as a very late night club whose parties were of the locked door, after 2am variety.

In June 2007, Boomtown was bought out of their lease in Hemming Park. They approached Van Horn about taking over the space and moving Boomtown back to Springfield.

Van Horn agreed and set a price of 6 thousand a month to lease the entire space, with a 12 thousand dollar deposit. Boomtown agreed under the proviso that Craig have nothing to do with the project, and Boomtown would maintain its own health and beer and wine license. They gave Craig the option of maintaining his own SRX licensing at 9th and Main, since all that required was that he simply pay the annual fee. Under these conditions, Van Horn suddenly changed the deal. He would need a 33 thousand dollar 'security' deposit instead.

Boomtown had no intention of giving Van Horn cash in this amount and turned down the deal.

http://www.metjax.com/forums/showthread.php?t=5439

http://www.urbanjacksonville.info/2007/06/18/

Instead, Van Horn hired Scott Abrams, the former director of Improv Jacksonville to manage the facility. Abrams soon reported the exact same difficulties as everyone else, and began to believe that the only way for him to succeed would be to get Craig out of the operation of the business.

To that effect, he found a willing 'investor' in Barry Owens, the principal partner of The Chai House in San Marco, a struggling restaurant unlucky enough to be caught on Hendricks Avenue during a general loss of business following several years of road construction.

In September of 2007 Dan McDonald announced the following:

Chronicling the various business ventures there would take more space than I am allotted here, but the latest is that Barry Owens and Scott Abrams have taken over the bar and theater portion.

The restaurant portion will, for the time being, still serve lunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The place is still called 9th & Main (although a name change could happen down the road), and Abrams said the bar and theater are open from 4 p.m. until business dies down Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. until whenever on Saturday and 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Sunday.

The Chai House Tea Company now provides the food on the bar side, but the team is going to specialize in pizza soon. They'll even be delivering.

There are plans for an '80s night on Mondays, Movie Night on Tuesdays and a Comedy Night on Thursdays.

Definitely set is the Wednesday Bike Night that begins Sept. 26. Abrams said they'll open the old garage doors to give the place the proper motorcycle atmosphere.

During football season, games will be the feature on Saturday and Sunday, with one of them projected on the bar's 18-foot screen.

Though they're already open, a grand opening is planned Friday, Oct. 5.

In the Meantime, Suzanne and Grace Justiss who had previously run Drayton's restaurant were brought in as 'partners' at the old Henrietta's location.

As with the other groups who had been ensnared in the machinations of 9th and Main, they were guaranteed profit shares and equity in the restaurant in return for labor and operational equipment. Grace Justiss developed a new menu and started taking austerity steps to control costs at the restaurant.

Suzanne Justiss told MetroJacksonville

"Oh yeah, he made big promises, and my mom worked without a paycheck for four and a half months, because she believed that she was going to get reimbursed from the partnership share. That of course, never happened and we were screwed."

Like so many others before them, the Justiss women found that their 'partnership' was suddenly being described as 'employment'. Barry Owens had found himself spending more and more money to attempt to turn a profit on the bar side, and after months of disappointing sales, decided to replace his putative partner, Scott Abrams, by hiring his favorite bartender from Bistro Aix, Tory Aunspach. It was Tory who informed the Justiss women that they were 'fired', regardless of whatever agreements they might have had to the contrary.

At about the same time Boomtown had announced their intention to open at a property leased from Chris Hionides across the street from their first space on Main Street.

After a discussion with Van Horn, Boomtown renewed the offer to take the space and resuscitate the reputation of the dining spot with a fresh new start and the loyal clientle of the longstanding dinner theater.

Since their leased space on Main Street had several months before it would be fit to occupy, Boomtown agreed to a month to month lease with Van Horn, in order to give both sides an easy way out in case there was later disagreement, and without the intention that the lease would be a permanent thing.

Stephen Dare.

To be honest, with all of the negativity and the shaky condition of Van Horn's finances, we didn't commit because we had no faith he would remain in control of the building, but for the success of our restaurant for very long. We also went in with our eyes open. We agreed to a percentage based performance contract and lease and let his accountants handle books (although we kept a separate set, of course)

Aunspach started working for Owens three days before Boomtown arrived to much ballyhoo on the blogs.

http://www.urbanjacksonville.info/2007/12/03/boomtown

http://sparcouncil.org/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=3210

http://www.metrojacksonville.com/forum/

Boomtown took possession of the building on November 24th, and began remodeling the interior, operating the restaurant with Boomtown's traditional menu and importing parts of their entertainment schedule.

On February 14th the following email went out:

Well,

Anyone who guessed that Boomtown would last at 9th and Main less than three months won the betting pool.

Craig Van Horn, the owner of the building at 9th and Main has been increasingly desperate for money, especially after losing one of his key tenants, as made obvious by the FOR SALE sign in front of the Klutho Apartments next door.

Boomtown did quite well at 9th and Main, thanks in large part to the really wonderful neighborhood support and patronage of you, our long time friends and family!!! We were experiencing pretty giddy growth even during this time of the year when business is traditionally VERY slow (in fact the time from Jan 2 until St. Patrick's Day is known as 'The Dead Zone" for restaurants and clubs.)

However, true to his nature, Craig had two groups inside functioning off of his one liscense--- Boomtown and "The Rusted Hinge" or the club side---- and played both sides off against each other in a quest for additional 'investment' into his by now, legendary, real estate empire.

Naturally Boomtown refused to give Craig any money other than the percentage of our sales that he was entitled to, although when he made an offer to actually sell the building (something of actual value other than the nebulous 'investment' bull malarkey he usually peddles) our partners, Steve and Margot Kennedy made a substantial offer and set about doing due diligence. Naturally there were sales tax issues and a few other little glitches, but nothing to derail the deal.

As Craig started needing the money more, he allowed the tension to ratchet up between the two groups---as well as his usual tactic of renegotiating and attempting to rewrite his agreements---which led to even more tension.

The tasering and arrest of his bar manager, Tory Aunspach in an incident in Riverside after an all night 'party' at Ninth and Main only served to strengthen our resolve to purchase the property and be done with it.

However, on Saturday afternoon, Boomtown received a phone call from the blonde debtor in charge of Van Horniness Real Estate (craig) telling us that the Bar owners had come up with cash sufficient to settle his several money emergencies (around 50k i would suppose---the amount he was pressuring us to put into his accounts on 'good faith') and that he was working up a 'management restructure'----Barry and Tory would be immediately running the restaurant.

He did graciously offer me the 'position' of being his web designer and of 'directing' his marketing efforts.

Naturally the offer just kinda blew my skirt up. I asked him whether he didnt have a housecleaning position that I couldn't fill in for him.

After a couple of very um....intense, conversations, we agreed to settle things out on Monday day in the form of negotiations.

We were there on a month to month basis, mostly out of good will on our part in order to help out with the business and reputation of Main Street. We weren't really expecting it to be a permanent thing, and have been slowly chipping away at our space between 7th and 8th---and I figured that self interest at least would keep Craig within the bounds of 'legal'.

I miscalculated apparently.

Craig, suddenly acting on the premise that Boomtown never really opened at 9th and Main, and that I was actually just a 'chef' hired by 9th and Main, declared that he didnt even have to observe the lightning fast process of a month to month lease---you know....15 day notice and then its over.

This is of course, patently absurd. As evidenced by the fact that we completely redid the entire space and the space was filled with Boomtown's dining accoutrement's. Anyways on Monday, without our supervision or permission he seized Boomtown's property, including our art, electronics equipment and computers---not to mention a lock box with almost a thousand dollars cash. The statement was even made to the cops that he had NOIDEA that I had somehow snuck all of our equipment and furnishings in without him knowing..he presently has it under lock and key in the soon to be repossessed Klutho Building, and earlier today even refused to let Lee Harvey have access to his fairly expensive paintings.

"Its not a good day," he said.

Naturally, we have filed a civil suit against Van Horn, and this will doubtlessly be settled in court.

But I am afraid to report that we will not probably be open this week.

However, I did go into the situation with Craig with my eyes wide open----our commitment to Main Street is exactly the same as it was, we knew from the start that if Craig could find a way to screw it up, he would---so no surprise. Although to be honest I am shocked about the criminal behavior with my property.

That said, we have decided to litigate this if only because of the string of similar scams perpetrated by Craig on a number of local restaurateurs.

Prior to us, Crush, Nosh, Henrietta's, Draytons and Deborah Neary were all subjected to the same bait and switch followed by the same insane demands for 'investment' . All of them eventually found their 'partnerships' transformed into 'employee status' followed by 'firings'.

In the real world we feel this is commonly called fraud. a shell game designed to keep his real estate properties intact by squeezing the money out of a string of hopeful 'investors'.

Thank god we didn't give him money.

Although we will see if we get all of our property back.

Anyways, we arent going anywhere. The entire time we have been working on our actual space on Main Street between 7th and 8th and should be ready to go in 7 weeks or so.

See you there and thanks for all of your loyalty, love and support.

We feel it right back at you.

Boomtown.

The suit brought by Boomtown and joined by several other victims in the string of scams is definitely an unwelcome development against the backdrop of the collapse of Craig's financing and the several notices of Foreclosure on file against his properties.

Says Ingrid Green

"To be honest, I don't know why he's not in jail yet. You would think that his investors would have done something about it by now."



Editorial by Stephen Dare







74 Comments

gatorback

February 22, 2008, 06:21:24 AM
I'm deeply saddened to hear about these events and my heart goes out to the victims.  Is there
any progress in getting all the property back?

whitey

February 22, 2008, 07:48:07 AM
There's always two sides to an issue, we have now read one

thelakelander

February 22, 2008, 08:09:09 AM
Yeah.  I'm interested to hear what Craig Van Horn has to say about this.

Lunican

February 22, 2008, 08:31:13 AM
There's always two sides to an issue, we have now read one

I bet there are at least 10 sides to this story. Unfortunately, I've already reached my reading limit for the day...

It does seem kind of strange how many restaurants have opened there and then quickly closed on bad terms. Maybe Craig should just lease his building like a regular landlord and not be involved in the operation?

JoeMerchant

February 22, 2008, 08:31:33 AM
I'm not all that interested in hearing what Craig has to say...because actions speak louder than words, and Craig's actions aren't very trustworthy.

whitey

February 22, 2008, 08:46:16 AM
There's always two sides to an issue, we have now read one

I bet there are at least 10 sides to this story. Unfortunately, I've already reached my reading limit for the day...

It does seem kind of strange how many restaurants have opened there and then quickly closed on bad terms. Maybe Craig should just lease his building like a regular landlord and not be involved in the operation?

But Stephen has seen his fair share of closings as well, and all have not been amicable.  That's why I think there is a lot more to this than whats been presented here.

stephendare

February 22, 2008, 10:19:54 AM
Actually whitey,

Both of my former landlords were motivated by the higher resale value of the buildings after Boomtown occupied them.  We did a public service by motivating the Bateh Family to get out of the slumlord game.   If you need any proof of the condition of the building, drop by the old main street location where you can see the collapsed roof.

And we have maintained our friendship with Robert VanWinkle and David Myris the owners of the Park Place.  If you remember there were actually four restaurants in the building, not just Boomtown.

Dave and Justin own Harpoon Louie's, drop by any time if you would like their additional input.

Boomtown is the latest, to be sure.  But even if you count by fractions, its only 1/9 of this story.

Colony

February 22, 2008, 10:34:53 AM
I'm starting to wonder if all of Springfield isn't cursed or just a constant victim of unethical opportunists (not just Van Horn or Hionides, but the folks who have stolen my garbage can and lawn mower).

DetroitInJAX

February 22, 2008, 10:49:39 AM
Well now we've seen Stephen's side of the story, Id like to hear what Mr. Van Horn has to say on the subject.


In fact, he should be invited to this fair website to say it.

Because, after all, we are a soundboard for the community.  All of the community.

jrwjax

February 22, 2008, 10:52:21 AM
I'm sure there are two or more sides to this story, but it seems that if so many have tried to make this place work and ended up failing, there must be some truth to this story.

stephendare

February 22, 2008, 11:01:16 AM
Craig is welcome to respond to the points of the story obviously.

This is a fair website.

As a matter of fact, he will probably also be welcome to respond to the facts of the story in court, which will also be public record.

Luckily you have also seen Justin Watkins', Dave Witt's, Deborah Neary's, Cherrise Stein's, Ingrid Green's and Suzanne Justiss' side as well.  There are other who weren't quoted within.

I have questions that Craig failed to answer.

1.  What became of the monies contractually guaranteed to Dave Witt and Justin Watkins?

2.  What became of the monies guaranteed to Deborah Neary?

3.   How many shares of Henrietta's were available for sale and what would have been the total percentage of each share?

4.  Can you provide accounting to the state for all of the transactions that involved the withdrawal of funds from one LLC to pay the expenses of another LLC?

5.   Can you provide an explanation for the funds referred to by Ingrid Green given to you as a downpayment for Streetscape?

6.  When will you pay Grace Justiss for her labor?   If she was an employee who could be fired, then why did she recieve no pay?   If she was a 'partner' how could she be fired?

I would love to hear Van Horn's 'side' of those questions as well.

second_pancake

February 22, 2008, 11:14:39 AM
I'm exausted.  Everything I've read here sounds like more work than it's worth, and frankly, if I were someone wanting to move into Springfield and open-up shop, this whole thing would turn me off...Van Horn, or no Van Horn. 

What ever happened to going to a bank, getting a loan, and buying a building, doing your own demo/construction with permits from the city, and making or breaking on your own?  Or, if you are leasing, what happened to getting a real-estate attorney or property manager to sit down at the table with you, go over the lease agreements, get signatures and then pay your monthly due every month and keep in compliance with the terms of the agreement?  If you or the other party are in violation, you take them to court.  It only costs a couple of hundred bucks to file a small claims suit against someone (if that).

In my opinion, this whole scenario (all parties involved) has 'shady' written all over it.  It sounds like a case of several people wanting in on some action with the least effort possible put forth.  And with all the "partners" involved in every business opened, it's a wonder that anyone can even keep the events straight at all!

I think it would be in the best interest of Springfield for the properties to be sold outright to someone who has no history with the buildings, property owner, or city.  Let a fresh-minded, hopeful, positive and optimistic person have a chance at success.  Springfield struggles enough with appearances as it is, the community certainly doesn't need a store-front changing hands every other month with publicized squabbles.

stephendare

February 22, 2008, 11:16:40 AM
Quote
I think it would be in the best interest of Springfield for the properties to be sold outright to someone who has no history with the buildings, property owner, or city.  Let a fresh-minded, hopeful, positive and optimistic person have a chance at success.  Springfield struggles enough with appearances as it is, the community certainly doesn't need a store-front changing hands every other month with publicized squabbles.

pearls of wisdom

Colony

February 22, 2008, 11:24:29 AM
Who is William Stephen Griffin and does anyone need an attorney to help oversee or discuss any civil complaints? I don't mind taking a look pro bono to start.
I see that a pro se complaint was filed against Van Horn and Owens on 2/12/08, but I haven't gone to the courthouse to look at it. It doesn't appear that defendants have been served yet. Curious stuff.

gatorback

February 22, 2008, 11:26:03 AM
Who is William Stephen Griffin and does anyone need an attorney to help oversee or discuss any civil complaints? I don't mind taking a look pro bono to start.
I see that a pro se complaint was filed against Van Horn and Owens on 2/12/08, but I haven't gone to the courthouse to look at it. It doesn't appear that defendants have been served yet. Curious stuff.

Who are you?  I might need help!

Colony

February 22, 2008, 11:39:30 AM
go to colonyjax.blogspot.com for info and email address then feel free to drop me a note. i am a concerned springfielder with a law license (three actually) and live just steps from 9th and main.

stephendare

February 22, 2008, 02:35:30 PM
Quote
What ever happened to going to a bank, getting a loan, and buying a building, doing your own demo/construction with permits from the city, and making or breaking on your own?  Or, if you are leasing, what happened to getting a real-estate attorney or property manager to sit down at the table with you, go over the lease agreements, get signatures and then pay your monthly due every month and keep in compliance with the terms of the agreement?  If you or the other party are in violation, you take them to court.  It only costs a couple of hundred bucks to file a small claims suit against someone (if that).

most of the parties have contracts, several of them very detailed and written up with the help of attorneys.

The problem for most people is finding and paying an attorney to represent them.

None of these claims are small claims court, as they exceed 15 thousand dollars in damages.

The filing fee for a claim is 256.00, plus the cost of service.

The cost for an attorney is usually a few thousand dollars in retainers in order to get them to file any of the paperwork.

Most of the parties had already put their money into the restaurant.  Especially in the case of the Steins, where the restaurant and the relationship with Van Horn actually drove them into bankruptcy.

Ocklawaha

February 22, 2008, 02:49:54 PM

I really don't care if Craig Van Horn, turns out to be my fairy god-mother and Stephendare the son of old Joe Banana's (Hey you did say he was a "Made Man", how many know what THAT means?). I'm more concerned with my waist line. All the legal BS aside, now where in the hell do we go for those soups and that Southwestern Sandwich?

Hey Stephen, I have my hands on an old NYC Subway car that would make a most cool restaurant...or interior room in a restaurant... anyone interested?


Ocklawaha

stephendare

February 22, 2008, 04:33:07 PM
hard to say.  If the judge rules for boomtown, then the restaurant may open back in the same space.

Or it may just open back up at the space between 7th and 8th.

Parts of Henrietta's menu unded up at Harpoon Louies.

None of nOSH's or Crush's menu are available anywhere local.

Perhaps the girls from Drayton's will open up somewhere else.

Its one of the damning things about this.

All of these groups wanted to come to Springfield.

Jeff and Erica were talking about it for a couple of years.  Same with Carlos and Cherrise.  In fact, Carlos ran the place that is now ShantyTown very successfully before he sold it---turned out that he couldnt run both the bar and a full time Job managing Hooters.

Streetscapes, Roost, Terry Netter, Draytons......but for the fact that they ended up in the orbit of Craig Van Horn, Springfield would already have a fully developed retail and restaurant scene.

EvenStillLeader

February 22, 2008, 04:45:54 PM
This is scary. But, what is done in the dark shall come to light eventually.

stephendare

February 22, 2008, 04:52:35 PM
Theres a whole lot more, EvenStill, a whole lot more.

77danj7

February 22, 2008, 04:59:37 PM
Stephen really hit it on the head...The shame of it all is that if it weren't for all of this Springfield could be booming with retail and restaurants. 
Hopefully through all of this and hearing all of this we can still become the retail destination that this neighborhood deserves!

stephendare

February 22, 2008, 05:48:36 PM
Thanks, Dan.

And thats not including the marginal businesses that most likely would have had a chance if Van Horn hadnt been so destructively competitive.

The article contains no mention whatsoever of the bad blood between Van Horn and the Paul Shockey/Tony Alligretti group.

Allighretti is way too well mannered to mention it, and hasnt, preferring instead to simply immerse himself in positive projects, but Van Horn created a lot of hostility with those guys as well.

SAL (springfield arts and living) is gone, after Tony left the neighborhood, he went downtown and got involved with The Urban Core building, helped open the Burrito Gallery, and brought The Art Walk in to adulthood from its infancy.

Imagine what Springfield would have been like if there had been some cooperation from Craig, when he had the blessing and good will of the city?

Imagine a Springfield full of all the things Craig should have completed, the stuff Allighretti and Shockey would have brought, all the stuff revolving around boomtown as well as the various independent ventures mentioned above.



stephendare

February 22, 2008, 07:08:09 PM
I keep getting emails from people over this story asking why he got away with this stuff for so long.

I guess mostly because of the perception of superpowers that he had.

After all, he was Folio's Man of the Year.

But one of the things not mentioned in the article is the fact that he also has a practice of providing housing for the people who work on his projects.  This was apparently a factor in the Scott Jacobson story.

His victims definitely feel the bitterness strongly enough.

brooklyn-ite

February 22, 2008, 08:21:45 PM
all you restaurant people need to open up in Brooklyn ... we have to go up into 5pts to get anything to eat.  And even then it is the same old same old ....

cherrise

February 22, 2008, 09:13:02 PM
Hello to all,

I have to say that I was slightly surprised to hear about this article today.  As so many of us know, this town is so much smaller than one may realize.  I will neither confirm nor deny the "quotes" made in this article.  The conversation I had with the individual who apparently wrote the article were between that person and myself and I was not made aware that anything I may or may not have said or confirmed were for publication.  That being said, all my best to those who still hold hope for the Springfield area.  I am very happy in my new life.  The Springfield chapter of my life is closed.  A personal note to all those who thrive on "drama"; concentrate on your own lives and not those of others.  You just may find your own has more interest than you thought.  My best to all.  "What goes around, comes around".

stephendare

February 22, 2008, 09:21:04 PM
Hey Cherrise!

good to see you!

What comes around goes around indeed!

cherrise

February 22, 2008, 11:03:21 PM
Thank you Stephen!

Indeed, indeed.

blizz01

February 23, 2008, 05:06:09 PM
Ock - Do you really have this (subway car) for sale?  How is it transportable?  The wheels were turning last night with some buds............

thelakelander

February 23, 2008, 05:55:33 PM
blizz01, if you want to see it, its in a fenced in lot on Ionia Street, just a half block north of 8th Street (on the left), in Springfield.

stephendare

February 24, 2008, 01:11:48 PM
ive got some property you could place it on!


lol, but then again so does chris hionides

zoo

February 25, 2008, 01:12:35 PM
Ock, talk with the city to see if it can be placed in the pocket park on Main. then open the restaurant. many trains as restaurants all over, but this is one of my favorites -- best greasy, cheesy chili in the west..

http://www.carneytrain.com/

stephendare

February 26, 2008, 10:12:47 AM
It looks like Van Horn is losing two more tenants on Main Street.

thelakelander

February 26, 2008, 10:43:04 AM
Who?

pollygodders

February 26, 2008, 04:43:37 PM
As someone who has lived less than half a block from 9th and main since its inception, I was aghast when justin and dave were railroaded out. Over 2 years they had built a perfect meeting place for people in the neighborhood, the food was fairly good, and there were plenty of things going on in the "theater", (art shows, plays, bands -think morrison pierce, kurt polkey, mactruque, etc.) thanks to jessica (if anyone remembers her). I was disgusted by what transpired between craig, justin and dave, and by the loss of a great community resource. After a period of ignoring everything up there out of loyalty to justin and dave, I tried to support a few of the restaurants that followed in their wake, but was wary. Nosh was fantastic, and that the chef was also trying to support and bring in indie music was a huge plus. unfortunately, short-lived and screwed again. We were thrilled to hear that the couple from crush was taking over, but they were gone even quicker. I have talked to  many of the people in this article, as well as others who have had dealings with craig, and the consensus is that craig will screw you over faster than you can say bankruptcy. We had a great next door neighbor for years in the house between our house and 9th and main - perfect tenent, quiet, friendly, smart, educated, and didn't seem to mind being right next door to live bands which were often quite loud and exuberant. He expressed his interest in buying the property from craig on several occasions and was shot down because craig wanted an exorbitant price for a decaying property which is bording on, if not outright decrepit. Personally, I would like to see craig lose 9th and Main in a settlement and for it to become the place it once was, or someplace even better. Unfortunately, Steven, I assumed boomtown would be there for a while, and I put off coming up there out of complaceny (and the fact that I love to cook and we rarely go out to eat.) When you open up your new digs, you can count on our support. We will never forget the kindness you and John showed us when we first moved to springfield, and the awesome times we have had in the past at Boomtown  :D

stephendare

February 27, 2008, 01:09:14 PM
Thanks Polly!

John and I have always loved you and Jeff.   Some of the most interesting people in the city.

Craig has a lot of issues that have affected the neighborhood.  Hopefully there are finally steps being taken to cure them.

dknighton

February 28, 2008, 03:48:30 PM
Very interesting story.  My only observation on the actual restaurant is that, during my very brief time living downtown, I went to 9th and Main once because you couldn't count on it being open consistently.  You're never going to build a customer base if they don't know from one day to the next if you're going to be open.  I don't think it has ever been managed well, by Van Horn or anyone else.

The story seems set out pretty well, with supporting quotes and facts.  If the trail of failure following Van Horn is to be believed, though, then why only now is someone seeking legal retribution against him?  Is he a slime-ball?  Possibly.  But one of these supposed "contracts" has got to stand up in a court of law.  Overall the tone of this story seems to be people making poor decisions to enter business agreements with Van Horn.

Hopefully tales of woe such as this will serve as a wakeup call to the various business-people, investors, and organizations directing the revitalization of Springfield.  These people can't seem to pull their collective heads out of their behinds long enough to realize they're embarassing themselves and the community they represent.  How can you expect the City to take you seriously when your own actions don't command respect?

stephendare

February 29, 2008, 12:00:22 PM
Craig Van Horn was the wonder boy, Dknighton.  After his coronation by Folio, unless you were directly involved in the details, none of the Springfield leadership really knew how serious it was.

He was brilliant in making sure to become the landlord for so many of his employees, providing them with their actual housing.  Speaking about the various details in his misadventure was pretty much out of the question for them.

People knew that something seemed to be wrong, but everytime there was a collapse, he followed it with the new group of 'investors', providing distraction.

stephendare

April 02, 2008, 05:59:39 PM
Well an interesting development came to light last night.

Apparently Van Horn has found yet ANOTHER investor in his troubled enterprizes.

Anecdotally, we found out last night that Mr. Van Horn recently managed to peel another 40 thousand dollar investment out of a Gainesville attorney, who invested in Craig's company, Symbiosis investments.

Apparently he is still hurting for money.

According to the source last night, Van Horn's new mark confided that 'Van Horn apparently really knows how to move the money around up there'.

I wonder if this means there is going to be yet another changeout at the restaurant?

Driven1

April 02, 2008, 10:09:00 PM
i love Folio Weekly!!!

stephendare

April 03, 2008, 10:34:45 AM
yeah no doubt.....They did make Craig Van Horn Man of the Year, after all.

Capricorn

April 08, 2008, 12:10:05 PM
 ???
Does anyone know if the business at 1610 N. Main St. is still for sale? If so, does anyone know who the realty company is? Despite all of the arguments between the local business owners, I have always wanted to own a business in this area.

Long Live BOOMTOWN and down with VAN HORN

thelakelander

April 08, 2008, 01:11:06 PM
???
Does anyone know if the business at 1610 N. Main St. is still for sale? If so, does anyone know who the realty company is? Despite all of the arguments between the local business owners, I have always wanted to own a business in this area.

Long Live BOOMTOWN and down with VAN HORN

Give SPAR (Springfield Preservation and Restoration) Council's offices a call.  They should be able to give you detailed information.

SPAR: 904-353-7727

Jimmy

April 09, 2008, 11:41:36 AM
I deleted my post.  I thought better of it.  No need to stick my nose under that tent. :)

downtownparks

April 09, 2008, 11:45:04 AM
I deleted my post.  I thought better of it.  No need to stick my nose under that tent. :)
Same here.

sheclown

April 21, 2008, 09:22:53 PM
I didn't post, but didn't want to be left out.  And I really don't like sticking my nose under tents either... (I don't think I do).

5377charles

May 23, 2008, 11:52:49 AM
Dear Capricorn,

Pollard House (1610 N. Main Street) is for sale (or rent) as is, by owners. Please contact ch9mil@aol.com. It is zoned commercial/residential. As you might know, the bottom floor was a restaurant, and the kitchen equipment is still there, should that enter in your plans. I have at your disposition two inspections, one of which noted the lack of air conditioning/ cenrtral heating, some minor problems with the electrical code and some isolated cases of wood-rot, all of which have been resolved (as noted in the second one). In any case you will want to do your own inspection, for which your access will be guaranteed by getting in touch with our secretary, Ms. Francesca Ball at ftbjax@comcast. net.

I am most pleased that Stephen and John (hi guys - Charles and Imma love you) are back in the hood. Love also (going on 4 decades) to Justin and David. As for Craig and the LOLAS, by their works shall ye know them.

thelakelander

May 23, 2008, 11:55:54 AM
What's the asking price?

stephendare

May 23, 2008, 12:06:26 PM
Dear Capricorn,

Pollard House (1610 N. Main Street) is for sale (or rent) as is, by owners. Please contact ch9mil@aol.com. It is zoned commercial/residential. As you might know, the bottom floor was a restaurant, and the kitchen equipment is still there, should that enter in your plans. I have at your disposition two inspections, one of which noted the lack of air conditioning/ cenrtral heating, some minor problems with the electrical code and some isolated cases of wood-rot, all of which have been resolved (as noted in the second one). In any case you will want to do your own inspection, for which your access will be guaranteed by getting in touch with our secretary, Ms. Francesca Ball at ftbjax@comcast. net.

I am most pleased that Stephen and John (hi guys - Charles and Imma love you) are back in the hood. Love also (going on 4 decades) to Justin and David. As for Craig and the LOLAS, by their works shall ye know them.

Charles!!!!!!

Is Imma in town?!!

Hurray!

stephendare

May 23, 2008, 01:32:33 PM
Charles and Imma are one of the Great Pioneer Couples of Springfield.  They spend at least half of every year in Barcelona, Imma's home.

Charles is an Antiquarian and Imma is an Opera Diva.

I believe I have a banner from one of the shows that they did with John Allen here somewhere.....

5377charles

May 24, 2008, 10:53:33 AM
Dear thelakelander,

Thanks for your interest. Please get in touch with me at ch9mil@aol.com. All the best from

Charles

stephendare

May 27, 2008, 11:15:24 AM
stephendare@gmail.com

chris

May 28, 2008, 06:09:55 PM
well since I seem to be the only one not posting on this rather interesting bit of commentary, i'll add a related, albeit quite out of place bit of my own....

what are these rumors about both metro and park place being shuttered by the state for various and assorted violations of some sort? some kind of b-ass-ackwards form of grade school vengeance, strange coincidences (HA) or just misinterpretations of the tin-cup telephones that are the jacksonville club circuit?

it had a bit of relevance as robert and david were mentioned in regards to the whole tenant dispute fiasco...

this whole thread paints a rather accurate picture of jacksonville commercial deals over the last half century; very-GOB, dimly lit poker room, back-door-finagling to rankle the last coins out of an old couch...

stephendare

May 28, 2008, 11:14:08 PM
well since I seem to be the only one not posting on this rather interesting bit of commentary, i'll add a related, albeit quite out of place bit of my own....

what are these rumors about both metro and park place being shuttered by the state for various and assorted violations of some sort? some kind of b-ass-ackwards form of grade school vengeance, strange coincidences (HA) or just misinterpretations of the tin-cup telephones that are the jacksonville club circuit?

it had a bit of relevance as robert and david were mentioned in regards to the whole tenant dispute fiasco...

this whole thread paints a rather accurate picture of jacksonville commercial deals over the last half century; very-GOB, dimly lit poker room, back-door-finagling to rankle the last coins out of an old couch...

Welcome to Jacksonville man.

We have enough bigots and dumbasses per square mile that we would qualify for Guinness were it not for the existence of Palatka.

stephendare

November 08, 2008, 08:33:45 PM
Well apparently the last of the Craig Van Horn chapters of the Old Firestone Building at 9th and Main has come pretty much to a close.

While I havent really tracked the fortunes of Barry Owens since the spectacular crash and burn of the nightclub after Boomtown closed in the space, I know that the manager, Tory left precipitously for the north west to join his friend Clancy at another restaurant venture in a different state.

Boomtown's entertainment programming, Nokturnal Escape and Mad Cowford remained at 9th and Main for a few months (with my blessing...no reason for the groups to suffer because of the hijinx on Craig's part) but Soul Release, with its massive upscale african American crowds was moved from the theater (which remained empty) and pushed into the small restaurant side without adequate lighting and no service at all.

With the arrival of Max Michaels as facilities manager, there was even doubt whether previously scheduled shows would have their schedules honored.

Soul Release, one of the largest and most legendary events in the national Spoken Word movement was reduced to pittance crowds and finally left looking for a venue.

However, against a backdrop of Van Horn properties being seized left and right (the Halsema Building was taken as elsewhere mentioned. The Collier Building is apparently without water or electricity, leaving the fairly prominent artists who lived and worked there pretty much up the creek, the Klutho Apartment Building, i was informed has also been taken from him) 9th and Main was a standalone corporation with only a 225 thousand dollar note against it held by the City.

Or at least it was when Craig was negotiating to sell the property to me and my partners.

Anyways, the neighborhood has witnessed the rapid crash and burn of three seperate incarnations since Boomtown left the space earlier this year (February 10, 2008---only 8 months ago.), the latest group, headed by gothic and sex fetish promoter Max Michaels, was invited into the space with no obligation except to pay for their own labor and keep some kind of business running ran into deal killing trouble.

Apparently after going to great expense to fund a grand opening show, the newest group paid all the necessary fees and deposits on entertainment and equipment etc only to show up on the day of show to find that the meters for electricity had been irrevocably turned off.

A check with the JEA discovered a 20,000.00 dollar past due balance for the service, a back amount that would have to be paid immediately in order for power to be restored to the location.

Such a sum was impossible to come by.  The new group lost their investment, a possibly fatal move to the organization itself, and the power is presently off  (no doubt until a new owner emerges) at 9th and Main.

There is very little likelihood of 9th and Main remaining in Craig's hands, by all accounts.

Its a pity that he wasted so many incredible resources so recklessly over the years.  It has all ended in tears.

The only bright spot is that at least the new owners are a much better caliber of developer.

The Halsema building is currently owned by a holding group managed by Davis Family scion Paul Saffell, a brilliant pillar in the redevelopment of both San Marco and Avondale in the mid 90s.

He has already begun negotiations for fairer leases with the tenants and improving the slumlike condition of many of the spaces which had deteriorated under Van Horn's stewardship.

This is probably the very prescription that Springfield needs.  New blood, fresher horses, no one with a monopoly and diversified resources.

The neighborhood could do worse than to have old solid money and experience like the Cesery and Davis families invested into its future.

thelakelander

November 08, 2008, 08:48:08 PM
Its probably best for Springfield that 9th & Main is now out of CVH hands.  This creates the opportunity for another group to come in.  Btw, I heard that a Middle Eastern restaurant is going into the old Main Street Bakery space.  The building will also get a new paint job.  However, it won't happen until that side of Main Street is complete.

stephendare

November 08, 2008, 09:53:31 PM
Yes, I think on balance its extremely good news.

And what a nice thing to hear on the Main Street Bakery front, Lake, any details?

thelakelander

November 08, 2008, 10:05:29 PM
The owner mentioned he wanted to target the lunch crowd for the most part.  He's shooting to start fixing the place up sometime in December.  This is when that side of Main Street is supposed to be complete.

uptowngirl

November 09, 2008, 06:18:38 AM
WHOOOO HOOOO!!!!!

That is awesome lake I hope it happens!

JaxByDefault

November 09, 2008, 01:17:41 PM
It would be great for Springfield to see something finally work in that space.

I just ask...no, I beg... for good food, good staff, and constant hours.

thelakelander

November 09, 2008, 02:09:14 PM
Btw, the former Draper Studios space at 8th & Pearl has been purchased.  The new owner's plan is to turn the space into an art gallery with a limited food menu (ex. serving sandwiches while people purchase artwork).  Right now, I don't know when this new gallery will open.

JaxByDefault

November 09, 2008, 02:27:54 PM
Also great news for the neighborhood. Thanks for the update, Lakelander.

stephendare

November 10, 2008, 09:35:24 AM
But there is no word right now as to what, if anything will happen to the 9th and Main Space.

While the key positive note is the removal of the primary stumbling block to Springfield's progress, its still a shame that such a great space destroyed so many people's fortunes.

And no word what is going on with the artists at the Collier building.

Is anyone in the neighborhood stepping forward to offer alternative space?

thelakelander

November 10, 2008, 10:04:00 AM
Has the foreclosure process worked itself out already?  From what I understand, it looks like the city will end up with the 9th & Main space.

stephendare

November 10, 2008, 10:46:05 AM
Im tracking that down right now Lake.

JaxByDefault

November 10, 2008, 12:51:02 PM
Several lis pendens, foreclosures, and a delay for auction come up on adjacent parcels under the same umbrella of ownership. There is an LP from April on the 9th & Main property (legal description: L 9, 10 B 51 Springfield), but from only a cursory and quick scan of property descriptors, no other judgments or actions tied to that particular property.

I, too, heard the rumor of the city ending up with the corner property.  Any verified news?

I'd love to see something done with these spaces, but the economy is tough for new business starts.

stephendare

April 06, 2009, 04:28:11 PM


Van Horn in final proceedings with 9th and Main.

mtraininjax

April 07, 2009, 01:42:03 AM
Van Horn for Mayor!!!!!

stephendare

January 08, 2010, 04:53:51 PM
Did 9th and Main go up on the auction block?

gatorback

January 10, 2010, 01:45:56 PM
When that happens who pays the taxes on the property? Is that the bank or lender or is it the city or does the tax revenue just not come in to the coffers?

Ocklawaha

January 10, 2010, 02:54:18 PM
Where the hell have you been Gatorback? Damn, I've missed your insightful comments on mass transit too! Good to see your posting.

PEACE OUT MAN!


OCKLAWAHA

braeburn

January 26, 2010, 02:30:02 AM
I miss this place  :(   LOVED the karaoke and the people there.

stephendare

January 02, 2011, 10:49:07 PM
Springfield's 9th and Main: Curse or Con?



 How Folio's Man of the Year Became Springfield's Greatest Liability and Conned Hundreds of Thousands of Other People's Money for his Failing Real Estate Empire. Craig Van Horn.

Full Article
http://www.metrojacksonville.com/content/view/720

Kiva

January 04, 2011, 02:40:19 PM
Did 9th and Main go up on the auction block?
Apparently the city's RFP deadline was last month. The only offer was from the TSI club, but it was for less than the "minimum bid" price of $328,000. Not sure if the city can still accept the lower bid, or will put out another RFP.
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