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Pine Camp Sues City for Breaking Lease

In their suit, Pine Camp Partners say that Richmond officials approached them in March 2003 and later negotiated a lease for office and clinic space. "It would have been a specialized building, designed for the health department," says Richard J. Knapp, attorney for Pine Camp Partners.

City Council approved an ordinance July 26, 2004, directing Jamison to sign a lease with Pine Camp to house both the health and social services departments. Jamison signed a 10-year lease at an initial rate of $399,667 annually.

But in December 2004, the suit says, the city told the company it had "no intention of performing its obligations pursuant to the Lease." Nor did the budget adopted in July include funding for the lease, the suit says.

"Frankly, with the changes down at City Hall … I still don't know quite what happened," Knapp says. The city had not officially responded to the suit by press time, and Bill Farrar, Wilder's press secretary, had no comment on it.

Next month, however, the city's health department will be absorbed into the Virginia Department of Health, Farrar says. Also, the mayor has announced that the city departments of economic development, justice and public utilities, as well as a satellite office of the city attorney, will soon move into City Hall. Moving the offices, Farrar says, is expected to save the city $1 million a year. — Melissa Scott Sinclair

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