HOLIDAY — A year ago this month, Guy Harvey Outpost Resorts announced plans for its first-ever RV park, near Tarpon Springs where the Anclote River empties into the Gulf of Mexico.
The $35 million resort, named after the popular Jamaican marine artist and conservationist, would include lots starting at $150,000 and cottages at $250,000.
But the Guy Harvey organization is no longer involved with the project. It accused its former partner, Elite Resorts, of acting in bad faith and demanded it "destroy all materials in circulation" that include any Guy Harvey trademarks.
Nonetheless, Elite Resorts is proceeding with plans for the park — now called Anclote River Resort by TradeWinds — even though a piece of the 67-acre site could be sold to satisfy a Bahamian bank's $405,693 judgment against an Elite-related company. And the head of Elite Resorts, Eduard Mayer, has a $1.8 million judgment against him personally from the same bank.
"I was told that the project was going to keep moving forward," said Pasco County Commissioner Kathryn Starkey, whose district includes the site just north of the Pinellas-Pasco county line. "There were some business dealings that were getting cleaned up or worked through. We don't get into that; it's a private developer on a project."
Mayer could not be reached for comment.
Guy Harvey Outpost, which has resorts in St. Pete Beach, Cancun and several other locations, said last May that it chose the Anclote River area for its first RV resort as part of a move to expand its brand into freshwater and inshore fishing.
The target buyers of the pricey lots and cottages would be college-educated, outdoorsy types who love to camp and fish, the company said.
Partnering on the project were Elite Resorts and Mayer, who owns several RV parks throughout Florida. Two of his other companies — Pasco Park LLC and Elite Resorts Managers — own several of the parcels where the new park would go.
In November, Pasco commissioners helped move the project forward when they sought state approval to amend the county's land use plan to change the zoning from residential to planned development.
But shortly before Christmas, Guy Harvey Outpost issued a little-noticed statement saying it had terminated its connection with Elite Resorts.
"Elite decided to forego concluding the documents of our relationship that we have been negotiating in good faith for over a year, and filed for approval without our consent," Mark Ellert, president of Guy Harvey Outpost said at the time.
Ellert said Thursday that "there were a lot of issues" that had nothing to do with TradeWinds, which would manage the RV park.
"They are our licensee on St. Pete Beach. They do a fabulous job," he said of the Guy Harvey Outpost/TradeWinds Island Resort. "Our issues were of the specifics of what was going on with the individual deal itself."
Until told by a reporter, Eller said he did not know that FirstCaribbean International Bank of the Bahamas had obtained a judgment against one of Mayer's companies, Elite Resorts Managers. Nor did he know that the Pasco County Sheriff's Office had published a notice that it would sell one of the parcels making up the resort site to satisfy the judgment.
"That's another example of some of the concerns we developed," Ellert said. "In hindsight, we saved a lot of time on a project that might never exist."
The sheriff's sale was set for Feb. 28. On Feb. 27, Elite filed a petition — with Mayer's signature — for bankruptcy protection, thereby blocking the sale.
The bank wants the case thrown out, saying it was filed in bad faith after Mayer made "herculean efforts" to avoid paying the judgment. The bankruptcy trustee handling the case has moved to have it dismissed, which would allow the sale of the parcel to go ahead. A hearing set is for June 13.
The county commission in February approved the land use change for the RV resort , although some other approvals are still needed, Starkey said. Promoted as "ecotourism," the park could have up to 350 lots, restaurants, a store, Discovery Center and bike paths and sidewalks linked to the Anclote Coastal Trail and eventually the Pinellas Trail.
"I would have loved for Guy Harvey still to be associated but I heard it may be coming into my county in a different way and a different place," Starkey said. "I think we'd get the best of both worlds."
Christopher Pollock, a Guy Harvey executive, said the company remains "very interested" in the Pinellas-Pasco area but he would not comment beyond that.
Contact Susan Taylor Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8642. Follow @susanskate