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John's Pass property owners headed in different directions

MADEIRA BEACH — Business is looking up for much of John's Pass as one owner at the retail and entertainment complex is poised to emerge intact from bankruptcy. But the owner of another part of the center has had a bankruptcy case thrown out of court and is headed for a foreclosure sale.

J Pass II, which owns about 5,000 square feet on the waterfront, filed for bankruptcy May 20, six days before a scheduled foreclosure sale. A federal judge recently terminated the bankruptcy and authorized Florida Bank to proceed with a foreclosure sale of 112 Boardwalk Place and 124 Boardwalk Place.

Tenants in the space include Eagle Parasail and John's Pass Waverunners.

"That was the tail end of a hotly disputed matter, a very complicated real estate transaction between Florida Bank and the Hartley entities," said Joel Treuhaft, attorney for J Pass II. "We're evaluating our position right now. We may seek a motion for a rehearing. I can see how it looks as a way of keeping a bank from securing its collateral. I can assure you that viewed in another context that is as far from the truth as it can be."

In the bankruptcy filing the business listed assets of $2.6 million and liabilities of $6.5 million. It listed debts with two secured creditors: Florida Bank and Chicago Group Finance of St. Petersburg.

Florida Bank asserted in its motion to dismiss the bankruptcy that Chicago Group Finance is a related entity to J Pass II and that it should not be a secured creditor. Corporate records filed with the state show a David Hartley as an officer of Chicago Group Finance. Public records also show David Hartley and James Hartley share a post office box in St. Petersburg.

Meanwhile, farther down the boardwalk, the Hubbard family is in better financial shape with the February opening of Hooters and the planned opening of the 12,000-square-foot Marine Discovery Center and Aquarium in December 2012.

"We had a great season," said Patricia Hubbard, who manages the property owned by her family business. She hopes a judge will confirm their plan for emerging from bankruptcy in July. It calls for all creditors to be paid off 100 percent. "We're ready to go, we just needed time."

Katherine Snow Smith can be reached at kssmith@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8785.

John's Pass property owners headed in different directions 06/28/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 28, 2011 4:30am]
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