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Condo dreams gone, developers seek buyer for Dunedin land

Developers of what was to be the Marina condo project seek a buyer for 1.6 acres of waterfront property in Dunedin.

THERESA BLACKWELL | Times

Developers of what was to be the Marina condo project seek a buyer for 1.6 acres of waterfront property in Dunedin.

DUNEDIN — After about $1-million in renovations, the old Victoria Lodge has a new tin roof, turquoise shingles with white trim and a tropical landscape. But the only traffic Friday flew by: an egret, an osprey and a flock of small birds.

Just inside the building, built in 1903, a photo of three smiling developers hangs near the door. And a big "Marina 200 Main Street" sign hangs near an empty sales desk.

If buyers had come, the house was to have been the recreation center for condos.

But now, another big sign has gone up on the Main Street side of the 1.6 acres: "Great Dunedin waterfront site available."

Jim Egnew, Richard Gehring and Bill Kimpton are advertising for buyers or investors for their much-ballyhooed $30-million Marina project.

After spending more than $2-million of their own money, the developers of the Main Street project are being sued by their bank for defaulting on nearly $5.7-million in loans.

"We're trying to find a developer to either step into the footprint of our project or perhaps an alternative project," said Kimpton.

In 2004 and 2005, they paid about $3.7-million for the old Victoria Lodge, the Bay Palms motel and the Sun Blest Apartments at Victoria Drive and Main Street, according to figures on the property appraiser's Web site. The partners invested in an extensive renovation of the 1903 house and in demolishing the others.

About 10 brokers have contacted Kimpton, he said, and he's waiting to hear back from them about their prospects.

"They seem to have some contacts with people out there who are looking," Kimpton said. "And we're waiting for them to bring them forward and we'll see what happens."

The bank also is a player.

"I think they are willing to discuss all the possibilities," he said.

Kimpton said a sale price has not been set, but at least one interested observer believes getting a good price will be difficult.

Only someone who can afford to buy it and hold it will buy now and they will pay 30 cents on the dollar, said Mark Klein, a Clearwater real estate broker who's familiar with the project.

Klein is president of Klein and Heuchan Realtors of Clearwater, a company that specializes in commercial and investment real estate.

Klein said the real estate market took a similar dive in the late 1980s to early 1990s during the savings and loan banking crisis.

"Banks took properties back … and finally let someone buy them for pennies on the dollar," Klein said.

Klein said his company also has vacant land for sale where condos were planned. "There is no market because supply has outstripped demand," he said.

He still thinks the Marina development could go forward.

"It will be a magnificent project — they just need some time," he said, and some assistance from the city on development deadlines, etc.

"If the bank can give them some forbearance, let them work it out, then everyone will come out whole."

Theresa Blackwell can be reached at tblackwell@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4170.

Condo dreams gone, developers seek buyer for Dunedin land 11/07/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 12, 2008 5:04pm]
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