Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Bella Verde developers given a tight deadline to keep project alive

The developers of Bella Verde, a proposed 4,300-home community on Cannon Ranch near San Antonio, have a little more than two months to come up with $4 million for road improvements or the entire development could be scuttled.

But County Administrator John Gallagher was skeptical that the struggling developers could come up with the cash before a late August deadline set Thursday by Pasco officials.

"They have not been able to get financing all along," he said at the Development Review Committee meeting. "I don't have a lot of degree of hope that between now and September, they're going to get the financing."

New Cities Land Co., lead developer of Bella Verde, is in bankruptcy after it was sued by several creditors. Art Woodworth, a representative of the company, said he expects a bankruptcy judge to approve a settlement at a July 5 hearing.

Two other companies are involved in the project: Bates Properties Inc. and DAD Properties Inc.

Under the bankruptcy agreement, Woodworth said, the three largest creditors would receive a "small payment" and other creditors likely wouldn't get anything. Then, the company would be free to seek a bond to pay for the initial design and land acquisition for widening State Road 52 east of Interstate 75, as the county requires.

The rest of the roughly $27 million in construction costs would be collected in small increments as each home is mapped out.

Woodworth acknowledged the slim chances of saving the development, but he said his client has lost $35 million on the project and doesn't want to give up now.

"They want the opportunity to do business and bring the project to fruition," he said.

It has been a tough several years for the Cannon Ranch development, which was first approved in 1989. In 2008, the developer won an extension on Bella Verde's build-out date from 2010 to 2017. As part of the deal, the number of homes was reduced from 6,700 to 4,373.

The developers were sued in 2009 and sought bankruptcy protection in February 2010. Bank of America said it was owed $17.5 million, the community development district demanded $10.6 million and the IRS asked for $1.5 million. Other creditors include Pasco County and Wilson Miller Inc.

The developer also faces a foreclosure lawsuit filed last month by Comerica Bank.

Gallagher said he is concerned about tying up potential road impacts on that stretch of highway. If a developer with a more flush bank account wanted to build nearby, it would have to account for Bella Verde's potential 4,300-home impact when calculating its transportation fees.

Pulling the plug on the Cannon Ranch project now, Gallagher said, would free up that potential highway capacity and make it cheaper for someone to build there.

"How long do you allow people to tie up capacity on your (road) network?" he said.

The drawback to spiking the plan now, though, is that Bella Verde can build up to 650 homes, a golf course and 150,000 square feet of retail before paying for any road improvements.

The next deadline for Bella Verde is Aug. 23, when county commissioners will consider the deal. An initial proposal would've given developers until October to come up with the initial payment, but Gallagher suggested tying the deadline to commissioners' meeting date. If developers don't have the payment by then, the development will be considered in default.

Lee Logan can be reached at or (727) 869-6236.

Bella Verde developers given a tight deadline to keep project alive 06/23/11 [Last modified: Thursday, June 23, 2011 8:35pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Four questions the Lightning still has to answer

    Lightning Strikes

    FORT LAUDERDALE — The Lightning made its biggest round of cuts Monday, with some of the big-named prospects heading out.

    Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steven Stamkos (91) looks on from the bench during a shift change at Lightning hockey training camp in Brandon on Monday (09/18/17). In background on right is Nikita Kucherov (86). DIRK SHADD   |   Times  

  2. Nine Florida football players, 62 felony complaints in fraud scandal


    GAINESVILLE — The fraud scandal that has engulfed the University of Florida's nationally ranked football team for weeks exploded Monday with the first detailed accounts of criminal accusations that threaten to derail the Gators' season.

    Florida Gators wide receiver Antonio Callaway (81) runs the ball during the Outback Bowl in January at Raymond James Stadium. [CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times]
  3. Where Rays shortstop Matt Duffy's lost season leads

    The Heater

    BRADENTON — In a perfect world Matt Duffy would have been in New York on Monday with his Rays teammates enjoying the final off day of the year. Instead, he was on Field 4 at Pirate City on a sweltering afternoon, trying to restart his season.

    Rays shortstop Matt Duffy plays in his first game (since rehab was aborted) with the club's instructional league on Monday at the Pirate City baseball field and spring training complex in Bradenton [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times]
  4. Vinny Lecavalier's jersey retirement will be another classic Vinny moment

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — He was the face of the franchise. He was taken first overall in the 1998 NHL Draft by a franchise at the bottom. Art Williams, the nutty Tampa Bay Lightning owner at the time, proclaimed the 18-year-old from Ile Bizard, a Montreal borough, "the Michael Jordan of hockey."

    Vincent Lecavalier makes a break for the net while playing an exhibition game on Sunday (9/24/17) with the 2017 U.S. Women???‚??„?s National Team at Amalie Arena in Tampa. Lecavalier was the captain of the Tampa Bay Lightning for the 2000???‚??€œ2001 season and between the 2008???‚??€œ2013 and spent his first 14 NHL seasons with the Tampa Bay Lightning before signing with the Philadelphia Flyers.
  5. Pinellas licensing board loses support for staying independent

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER –– The Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board on Monday lost its strongest supporter for staying independent.

    State Sen. Jack Latvala, a Clearwater Republican running for governor, said Monday that he will no longer support any legislation to keep the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board independent. This photo was taken in August. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]