Make us your home page
Instagram

Greater Tarpon Springs Chamber of Commerce could lose its building to foreclosure

TARPON SPRINGS — The organization charged with fostering growth in the city's business community may lose its building to foreclosure.

And some in the community are blaming the development on years of legal wrangling.

Bank of America started foreclosure proceedings this week on the Greater Tarpon Springs Chamber of Commerce's facility at 11 E Orange St.

According to court documents filed by the bank, the chamber owes $242,642.36 on a $255,000 loan that it obtained on May 8, 2007. The building served as collateral.

The chamber was to pay $2,075.23 a month until May 2027 but it failed to make the principal and interest payments in timely a manner, court documents said. There was no mention of how many payments were missed.

Sue Thomas, the chamber's executive director, said the chamber has been working with Bank of America for the last four months and thought a solution had been reached. But Bank of America's attorneys chose a different route, Thomas said.

"Their attorneys chose to 'modify' the loan by calling it due in eight months, giving us until January 2011 to refinance the building," Thomas said in an e-mail Friday to members of the chamber. "In this economy, they knew that would never happen, particularly with a nonprofit."

A call to the attorney representing Bank of America was not returned.

The chamber took out the $250,000 loan mainly to fight two breach of contract and defamation lawsuits that were filed against it in 2006. The chamber settled one matter in July 2008. The other was settled in December. The settlement terms are confidential.

"It's been five years of bad decisions at the chamber that has led to this and they have no one to blame but themselves," said Tim Dorr, one of the Tarpon Springs business owners who filed suit against the chamber and then executive director Theajo "TJ" Davis.

"All we asked for was an apology and to make it right. None of it had to happen," he said.

Dorr is the current president of the Tarpon Springs Business Alliance.

Dale Jacquay, the other business owner who sued and settled in December, agreed.

"I was pretty certain this would be the end result," Jacquay said of the chamber's current position. "I tried to settle with them three different times. But TJ Davis specifically took the position they were going to fight me to the end and run me out of town."

Thomas said that much of the chamber's money has gone to legal fees instead of programming recently, though she wasn't there for much of the legal wrangling.

Davis resigned in September 2007 after accusations of mishandling grant money. Reached Friday in Colorado, she said the board of directors controlled all the decisions of the chamber. With the legal battles, Davis said she was doing what she was told.

"They tell you as an employee what to do and they vote," Davis said. "You work at the discretion of the board of directors. I didn't have a dog in that fight."

While Dorr and Jacquay have settled their civil suit with the chamber, the defamation claims against Davis have yet to be resolved.

In Thomas' e-mail to chamber members Friday, she also noted that the organization's insurance rates were increasing.

Two weeks ago, the chamber's board of directors decided to sell the 5,094-square-foot building that it purchased in 1995 for $83,000. The property is now valued at $230,000. The chamber is working with a real estate attorney, Thomas said.

A tenant in the building has been notified of the chamber's position, Thomas said. Both Clearwater and St. Petersburg chambers of commerce rent their buildings, Thomas noted.

"Essentially, we are being held hostage by a building," Thomas said. "As far as the Chamber of Commerce, it is about the people and the programs we have. We can sit in the middle of the street, but it's about providing quality programing. It doesn't matter where our desk is."

Demorris A. Lee can be reached at dalee@sptimes.com or (727) 709-6026.

Greater Tarpon Springs Chamber of Commerce could lose its building to foreclosure 05/28/10 [Last modified: Friday, May 28, 2010 7:39pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Last orca calf born in captivity at a SeaWorld park dies

    Tourism

    ORLANDO — The last killer whale born in captivity under SeaWorld's former orca-breeding program died Monday at the company's San Antonio, Texas, park, SeaWorld said.

    Thet orca Takara helps guide her newborn, Kyara, to the water's surface at SeaWorld San Antonio in San Antonio, Texas, in April. Kyara was the final killer whale born under SeaWorld's former orca-breeding program. The Orlando-based company says 3-month-old Kyara died Monday. [Chris Gotshall/SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment via AP]
  2. Miami woman, 74, admits to voter fraud. Does jail await, or will she go free?

    State Roundup

    MIAMI — An 74-year-old woman pleaded guilty Monday to filling out other people's mail-in ballots while working at Miami-Dade's elections department.

    Gladys Coego
  3. Bigger ships carry Georgia ports to record cargo volumes

    Economic Development

    SAVANNAH, Ga. — Bigger ships arriving through an expanded Panama Canal pushed cargo volumes at Georgia's seaports to record levels in fiscal 2017, the Georgia Ports Authority announced Monday.

    The Port of Savannah moved a record 3.85 million container units in fiscal 2017, the state said, benefiting from the larger ships that can now pass through an expanded Panama Canal.
  4. Dragon ride in Harry Potter section of Universal closing for new themed ride

    Florida

    Universal Orlando announced Monday that it will close Dragon Challenge for a new "highly themed" Harry Potter ride to open in 2019 — sending wizard fans into a guessing game with hopes for a Floo Powder Network or the maze from the Triwizard Tournament.

    Universal Orlando announced Monday that it will close Dragon Challenge on Sept. 5 for a new "highly themed" Harry Potter ride to open in 2019. The ride, originally the Dueling Dragons roller coaster, was renamed and incorporated into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter when the hugely popular area opened in 2010.
  5. Would you let your company implant a chip in you?

    Working Life

    Would you ask an employee to get a chip implanted in her hand? Sounds invasive and intrusive. But come Aug. 1, one company in Wisconsin will be giving it a try.

    Three Square Market - a developer of software used in vending machines - is offering all of its employees the option to get a microchip implanted between the thumb and forefinger. [Photo from video]