NAPLES — It was their American dream.
Three women wanted to retire in the Naples area and buy homes in the same community. They hoped to be neighbors living on the same street in their golden years.
Five years ago, Blanca Chaparro, her sister, Gladys Lopez, and a lifelong friend, Ana Isabel Rodriguez-Storer, put money down to each buy homes in Bristol Pines.
But their homes were never built and they've lost most of the money they put down as deposits.
Each has a court judgment against the developer for the money they are owed. But they haven't been able to collect a penny.
"In this case, they were promised the return of their money and now they are left holding the bag," said their Naples attorney, Doug Lewis. "This money is important to my clients. This was part of their retirement."
Rodriguez-Storer, 60, said their lives have been changed completely, their dreams dashed. She lost more than $22,000.
"We thought by this time we would have the houses. It ended up being an insomnia Americana, not the American dream," she said.
Her friends, Lopez and Chaparro, are heartbroken that their retirement plans have crumbled.
"All the plans we had were lost," said Chaparro, 67, in Spanish.
She's the only one of the three who lives in the Naples area now. She works part-time at a local Publix and lives with her daughter.
Rodriguez-Storer and Lopez live in New York and aren't sure whether they'll be able to move to Naples now because they've lost so much money.
After the housing boom went bust in Southwest Florida, the developer of Bristol Pines, Waterways Joint Venture IV LLC, ran into financial trouble, then defaulted on more than $30 million in loans for several residential projects, including Bristol Pines. Last year, Wells Fargo Bank foreclosed on the mortgages, which it took over after a merger with Wachovia Bank.
Richard Davenport, the chief executive of Waterways and a principal in the company, declined to comment on the legal cases involving the three women.
He said while his company still exists on paper, it has no employees, bank accounts or assets, so it's out of business.
He said he held on as long as he could, but the downturn lasted too long for his company to survive.
The developer's bank accounts have been taken over by a court-appointed receiver and the still-vacant lots that Lopez, Chaparro and Rodriguez-Storer chose for their homes are headed to a public sale on Wednesday, along with other property tied to the multimillion-dollar foreclosure case in Collier County.
Bristol Pines is about half built with about 160 homes. Other projects involved in the foreclosure case are Summit Place, which is about two-thirds built with more than 300 homes on nearly 98 acres, and Summit Lakes, which was never built.
The developer owed the most on the loans for Summit Lakes — nearly $13 million. The foreclosure judgment on that property is nearly $16.1 million.
After the foreclosure auction, the three women fear they'll have no chance of getting their money back. At one point, the developer offered to sell the women other homes that already had been built in the first phase of Bristol Pines, but not yet sold. The women refused the offer, saying they just wanted their money back.
The women no longer trusted the developer and later found out that some of the finished homes in Bristol Pines had tainted Chinese drywall.