Cavalier HotelThey came away with engineering conclusions that the interior steel beam infrastructure was rusting away - -  dangerously toward collapse.  Concluding it would  require enormous sums of money that would make it more costly than its completed structure would be worth.

They walked away. 

But Thompson, manager of Cavalier Associates LLC, saw it as an opportunity to take the city’s most famous landmark and make it great again. He claimed purchasing deadlines by court order forced quick action. And time was of the essence  if he planned to acquire it - maybe the reason the structural faults weren’t discovered … or worse yet, seen, but ignored in the rush to acquire th property.

The property includes the hotel on the hill, a tract across the street on the beach - the site of the former ’new’ Cavalier and beach club. Cavalier LLC  is spending more than $200 MILLION for the proposed restoration.

Government activists fear that with so much unanticipated debt and construction delays, Thompson will return to the city for more tax funding. Thompson says that won’t happen even though the rehab budget has grown from about $50 to $74 MILLION (and still climbing) and it is still a year or more from completion - which was scheduled to be this spring. 

Thompson now says opening will be next spring, but he has his doubters. And those taking delight in his financial and construction dilemma. "I knew before it was sold, what a buyer would be facing," said one who walked away.

A flashy businessman who with partner Edmund Ruffin has bought, renovated, or built other hotel properties - some controversial - in Virginia Beach through deep connections to the beach city manager and other city bureaucrats Thompson has enjoyed a stellar reputation for success in such ventures, while confounding competitors and opponents. 

Time will answer the  question whether the Cavalier will be his greatest showpiece  or his ‘Waterloo.’