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Local music producer buys bankrupt Treasure Island Tennis & Yacht Club

Music producer and entrepreneur Bill Edwards, pictured Thursday at the Treasure Island Tennis & Yacht Club, expects to close a cash deal today for the bankrupt property in his hometown, changing nothing but the name on the deed, he says.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Music producer and entrepreneur Bill Edwards, pictured Thursday at the Treasure Island Tennis & Yacht Club, expects to close a cash deal today for the bankrupt property in his hometown, changing nothing but the name on the deed, he says.

Local music producer Bill Edwards says he is buying the Treasure Island Tennis & Yacht Club.

Edwards said he had heard that his hometown club was in bankruptcy and wanted to save it from closing.

So he approached Regions Bank with an all-cash offer. The Treasure Island businessman wouldn't disclose the price, but the club had an $8.6 million mortgage with the bank, according to bankruptcy records.

"I hadn't even been to the club until I made the deal," Edwards said Thursday. "But it's a beautiful building."

Paperwork hasn't been signed, but Edwards said he expects to close on the property today. The club would stay open, he said, and employees would be retained.

Multiple calls to the bank's lawyer and the yacht club's management were not returned.

The yacht club has about 700 members. It was unclear Thursday how many employees it had.

In 2008, the yacht club completed a $7.1 million expansion that added a 30,000-square-foot building. At the time, management hailed it as an opportunity to hold social events and accommodate its growing membership.

Seven months later, the club filed for bankruptcy.

The club owed more than $95,000 in taxes, in addition to the mortgage. Other creditors include Sysco Food Services, Brisk Coffee Co. and Greentree Linen Consultants. Lawyers were in court Monday to dispute a copier lease.

The yacht club was handed over to the bank July 1 as part of its reorganization.

It's not the first troubled building Edwards has tried to acquire. He offered St. Petersburg more than $10 million in 2004 to run the Mahaffey Theater. The city would use the money to renovate the theater, and Edwards would get to manage it for five years, keeping all the revenue.

Then the St. Petersburg Times revealed that he was convicted on a misdemeanor marijuana possession charge in Greece, accused of shipping marijuana from his St. Petersburg business to the yacht he was vacationing on. Edwards told officers that the marijuana relieved back pain caused by an old war injury.

When the arrest was made public, Edwards called the deal off and blamed the newspaper. His conviction was later thrown out on appeal.

After the deal fell apart, Edwards donated $2 million to Mahaffey renovations, no strings attached.

Since then, Edwards has focused on growing his music business, Big 3 Entertainment, whose talent roster includes Cheap Trick and Carnie Wilson. He's also the CEO of Mortgage Investors Corp., the country's largest Veterans Affairs mortgage lender.

Edwards is not a yacht club member and said he was willing to take on the risk.

"Somebody had to stand up and deal with the bank," he said Thursday.

The club needs minor repairs and solid management, Edwards said. He hopes the only change members notice is that there's a new owner invested in its future.

"There's a lot of history to this club, and it's had some tough runs," he said. "I hope to make it a success."

Times researcher Will Gorham contributed to this report. Jackie Alexander can be reached at jdalexander@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8779.

FAST FACTS

About Edwards

. In 2000, Edwards created Big3 Entertainment, an independent record label. Talent roster includes Jon Secada, Cheap Trick and Carnie Wilson.

. He launched concert promotion company Bill Edwards Presents in 2008.

. He offered St. Petersburg more than $10 million in 2004 to run the Mahaffey Theater. A conviction, later overturned, for marijuana possession derailed the deal. He eventually donated $2 million for renovations.

Local music producer buys bankrupt Treasure Island Tennis & Yacht Club 07/09/09 [Last modified: Thursday, July 9, 2009 11:21pm]
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