Make us your home page
Instagram

(Un)Real Estate: Builder just flutters away from the disaster

Smith Family Homes built a nice house. Few can argue with that. A tour of its $500,000 model homes could leave a person green with granite countertop envy.

But what to make of this week's disclosure? It seems Smith Family Homes — fresh from bankruptcy liquidation that could leave customers, bankers and suppliers out millions of dollars — is back in business under a new name.

A week before Smith filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in July, the family started a venture called Monarch Homebuilders. The logo is a butterfly, apparently fresh from its chrysalis, with the words "A Brand New Life."

The outraged people who e-mailed me obviously hadn't signed onto the triumphant resurrection thing. They're not ready to soar with a butterfly that left so much carnage behind as a homely caterpillar.

Smith Family's debts hover in the tens of millions. Stiffed banks read like a Who's Who of Dixieland lending: Wachovia, Bank of America, SunTrust, Regions. Plumbers, landscapers, carpet layers and electricians swell the list of creditors.

Their argument is compellingly simple: You got money to start a new building business, you got money to pay off your debts. One guy complains that Smith took a $20,000 deposit and left him with a shell. Another buyer, who closed on a house this spring, gets bills from unpaid contractors. The birth of Monarch a week before the death of Smith Family smacks of premeditation.

From what little Smith has revealed, a private investor pulled the plug on its credit. But trouble had been brewing for years. As the Times wrote in May, Smith owed more than $1-million in property taxes to Pasco and Hillsborough counties.

The Smith-to-Monarch switcheroo represents quick change artistry seldom seen since Clark Kent stripped to his tights in the phone booth. But Superman was known for leaping buildings, not leaving them unfinished.

James Thorner can be reached at [email protected]

(Un)Real Estate: Builder just flutters away from the disaster 08/07/08 [Last modified: Thursday, August 14, 2008 2:55pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Carrollwood fitness center employs scientific protocol to help clients

    Business

    In 2005, Al Roach and Virginia Phillips, husband and wife, opened 20 Minutes to Fitness in Lakewood Ranch, and last month they opened the doors to their new location in Carrollwood.

    Preston Fisher, a personal fitness coach at 20 Minutes To Fitness, stands with an iPad while general manager/owner Angela Begin conducts an equipment demonstration. The iPad is used to track each client's information and progress. I also included one shot of just the equipment. The center recently opened in Carrollwood. Photo by Danielle Hauser.
  2. Olive Tree branches out to Wesley Chapel

    Business

    WESLEY CHAPEL — When it came time to open a second location of The Olive Tree, owners John and Donna Woelfel, decided that Wesley Chapel was the perfect place.

    The Olive Tree expands its offerings of "ultra premium?€ extra virgin olive oils (EVOO) to a second location in Wesley Chapel. Photo by Danielle Hauser.
  3. Massachusetts firm buys Tampa's Element apartment tower

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — Downtown Tampa's Element apartment tower sold this week to a Massachusetts-based real estate investment company that plans to upgrade the skyscraper's amenities and operate it long-term as a rental community.

    The Element apartment high-rise at 808 N Franklin St. in downtown Tampa has been sold to a Northland Investment Corp., a Massachusetts-based real estate investment company. JIM DAMASKE  |  Times
  4. New York town approves Legoland proposal

    News

    GOSHEN, N.Y. — New York is one step closer to a Lego dreamland. Goshen, a small town about fifty miles northwest of the Big Apple, has approved the site plan for a $500 million Legoland amusement park.

    A small New York town, Goshen approved the site plan for a $500 million Legoland amusement park. Legoland Florida is in Winter Haven. [Times file  photo]
  5. Jordan Park to get $20 million makeover and new senior housing

    Real Estate

    By WAVENEY ANN MOORE

    Times Staff Writer

    ST. PETERSBURG —The St. Petersburg Housing Authority, which bought back the troubled Jordan Park public housing complex this year, plans to spend about $20 million to improve the 237-unit property and construct a new three-story building for …

    Jordan Park, the historic public housing complex, is back in the hands of the St. Petersburg Housing Authority. The agency is working to improve the 237-unit complex. But the latest plan to build a new three-story building for seniors will mean 31 families have to find new homes. [LARA CERRI   |   Tampa Bay Times]