Lenders press Tampa Bay developer Grady Pridgen for unpaid debts
Wake up and good morning. Grady Pridgen: You know him best by his double entendre billboard on Interstate 275. It says Not Just Another Pretty Place next to his smiling face. Now you may also get to know him well as a high-profile real estate developer who, lenders say in recent lawsuits, is not paying his loans. He is among the financially wounded in a recession intensifying on the troubled commercial real estate industry.
Pridgen is an aw-shucks cross between Jimmy Stewart and Jimmy Dean who has built a reputation as a big-idea developer with progressive and green building aspirations. He's known across Tampa Bay, but especially alongI-275's Gandy Boulevard and Gateway areas of St. Petersburg.
Multiple banks have sued Pridgen and partners for failing to pay back loans. The biggest lawsuit comes this month from Capmark Bank of Utah.It sued Pridgen and several related businesses for failure to make monthly payments since last fall on two loans worth more than $25 million. Capmark wants to foreclose on property that secures the loans. It also demands the full amount due from Pridgen, who personally guaranteed the loans. Read more about Pridgen, the recent sale of his 10,000-square-foot home (once owned by major league baseball player Dwight "Doc" Gooden) and the other lawsuits.
(Photos by John Pendygraft of the St. Petersburg Times.)
-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist