A Hamilton County Circuit Court judge on Monday agreed to hear more arguments in a dispute involving the owner of the former St. George Hotel in the Southside and a well-known businessman.
Judge Kyle Hedrick permitted an attorney for property owner Marta Adler to amend her lawsuit against Chattanooga businessman James D. "Donnie" Hutcherson.
The judge set another hearing for Sept. 9 in which lawyers for Alder and Hutcherson are seeking summary judgment on the suit, which was filed earlier this year by the owner of the dilapidated hotel property across Market Street from the Chattanooga Choo Choo.
"From my perspective this contract is pretty clear ... ," said the judge toward the end of a two-hour hearing before agreeing to listen to more arguments next month.
St. George Holdings, a company controlled by Alder, bought the building in 2013 and has plans for a new hotel at the site. Hutcherson loaned her $700,000 in 2017 to get the project started, court papers show.
Alder said in the suit she tried last last year to repay Hutcherson, managing partner at the city's biggest locally owned accounting firm, Henderson Hutcherson & McCullough. But Hutcherson wouldn't accept the money and rather wanted to take ownership of the 1445 Market St. location.
Hutcherson, in a counterclaim, said he's exercising his right to buy the site in accordance with an option agreement in the contract in the event Alder didn't receive and close on a development loan on or before Dec. 8, 2018.
Hutcherson attorney Gary Patrick said the option agreement was "very specific" that Hutcherson would have the right to purchase the site if Alder failed to obtain the development loan in the option agreement.
Alder spent funds on engineers, architects, consultants and contractors to evaluate the planned project, and it was determined by the third parties that plans to use the existing building facade weren't possible due to the deteriorated condition of what's left of the structure, attorney William Horton said in the lawsuit against Hutcherson.
The former St. George Hotel has been vacant since about 1980, and fire damaged the building in 2004. The rear part was removed by order of the city in 2012 as it was deemed unsafe, said Horton.
Contact Mike Pare at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6318. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.