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Pasco builder files for bankruptcy

Jerry E. Coone, the president of the Florida Home Builders Association in 1985, filed for personal bankruptcy, culminating a five-year-old struggle with financing problems and failed investments. Coone claims liabilities of $2.7-million and assets of $69,000 in the Chapter 7 bankruptcy papers filed last month at Federal Bankruptcy Court in Tampa.

Once a highflying developer, Coone said his financial problems revolved around the failures of Park Bank and McNulty Bank, both based in St. Petersburg, and Sunrise Savings and Loan Association of Lake Worth. The effect of those closings forced Coone to shut down his J. Edgar Corp. development company several years ago.

He now works as vice president of Genesis Commercial Services Inc., a company that has developed two West Pasco business parks and is owned by Roy Speer, chairman and chief executive of Home Shopping Network Inc. in St. Petersburg. Coone also serves as a director of the Pasco Committee of 100 and was president of the Contractors and Builders Association of Pinellas County in 1981.

"I had a net worth of over $2-million when the banks shut down, and I lost it all," Coone said. "It's just dragged on for three to four years, and it's just to the point that it's not worth fighting the battle anymore. I figured I might as well file, clean it up and get on with my life."

Coone said he owned roughly 75,000 shares each in the two banks and lost about $800,000 when federal banking regulators shut down Park Bank in 1986 and McNulty Bank in 1987.

While not an investor in Sunrise Savings, Coone said that closing in 1985 forced him to sell off the Twin Oaks shopping center in Seminole before completing development. Coone said he was unable to pay off contractors and other creditors when Sunrise was shut down shortly after committing to a $3.5-million loan on the center.

The final problem came when Coone and several partners lost a zoning battle with South Pasadena over the construction of a 10-story building in 1986. The group already had sunk $2-million into the project, Coone said.

The problems with Twin Oaks left Coone facing numerous creditor lawsuits and eventually judgments, which he hopes to resolve with the bankruptcy filing. He said many of those claims were settled by the developer who bought the center but remain on the books, making it impossible for him to normally conduct his finances.

"My attorney says the only way I can get it cleaned up without paying a fortune in legal fees is to file personal bankruptcy," Coone said.

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