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Virginia marina operators sue each other over marina purchase

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A marina manager in Virginia is suing another operator over the recent purchase of a marina, with the manager claiming he was supposed to have the first right of purchase. According to a story in the Richmond Biz Sense, Max Walraven acquired a majority ownership stake last October in Kingsland Marina on the James River. Walraven also owns nearby Richmond Yacht Basin.

The paper reported that Kingsland’s previous manager, Henry Upshur, has filed a lawsuit against Walraven, alleging that Walraven’s deal to purchase the marina breaches the terms of the lease Upshur had with the previous owner. That lease, said Upshur, gave him first right of refusal for purchasing the marina.

Upshur’s lawsuit alleges that he had once shared ownership in Kingsland from 1990 to 2001. Court records, according to the paper, show that Upshur made an offer for Kingsland in late September as part of a $1.5 million proposal that included other assets.

Walraven bought Kingsland from the son of the previous owner, who had died. Walraven has filed a countersuit against Upshur, alleging he failed to maintain the property according to the terms of the lease. Walraven’s lawsuit seeks up to $1 million in damages due to what it claims was a lack of dredging and other property maintenance.

Walraven told the paper he has started to improve the Kingsland property, including applying for permits to dredge the harbor. “All these marinas, they were neglected for the last 50 years,” Walraven told the paper. “These are the oldest marinas in the state of Virginia. Richmond Yacht Basin was the second-oldest and the first yacht club ever in Virginia, back in 1939…That’s my new goal in life, to bring these marinas back to life.”

Walraven said the occupancy rates for Kingsland’s slips is about 20 percent. He says the loss of business was because of the lack of dredging and maintenance. Walraven told the paper that he has graded the parking lots and made other improvements to the facility.

Upshur’s lawsuit claims breach of contract, tortious interference and conspiracy to commit tortious interference, according to the paper. The lawsuit asked the court to extend the right of first refusal. It also seeks the award of damages in an amount yet to be determined.

Walraven’s countersuit against Upshur claims breach of contract, negligence, and breach of duties as constructive insurer, according to the paper. The countersuit also lists former marina tenant Richmond Marine Center and operator Ben Gibson Jr. as defendants.

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