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Mainsail: Epicurean not affected by Scrub Island bankruptcy

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Published:   |   Updated: November 20, 2013 at 11:37 PM

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TAMPA — One of the lead partners in the hotly anticipated Epicurean hotel, Joe Collier and his Tampa-based Mainsail Lodging and Development Inc., could lose control of an ultra-luxury resort that sits on its own island in the British Virgin Islands.

Collier on Wednesday said his battle to keep control of Scrub Island Resort, Spa and Marina won’t jeopardize the Epicurean or his involvement in the foodie-themed boutique hotel, which is expected to open next month on Tampa’s Howard Avenue. Scrub Island and the Epicurean are under separate ownership and don’t share financing, he said.

Scrub Island Resort is a condo/hotel project in the British Virgin Islands that developed 26 two-bedroom units and is trying to sell them for $900,000 to $1.5 million apiece. Owners can split each unit into two rentals, giving the property 52 hotel rooms.

The resort also is developing separate villas for up to $4 million apiece. One of the local villa buyers is Thomas Frederick, a co-founder of the office equipment company Zeno Office Solutions of Tampa, according to court documents. To entice buyers, Scrub Island Resort is loaded with exclusive amenities including a 55-slip marina, a multi-level swimming pool, restaurants, dive shop and spa.

It flies Marriott’s high-end Autograph Collection flag, said Collier, whose company is the project’s developer and one of its main unsecured creditors.

However, he’s been fighting to prevent Scrub Island Resort’s main lender from seizing it. Scrub Island Development Group, an entity headed by Collier, and a related company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection this week, which lets a company reorganize its finances while protected from creditors.

In bankruptcy court documents in the bankrupcty court’s Middle District of Florida, Collier claims FirstBank reneged on a deal and secretly convinced a Caribbean court to appoint a receiver over the resort. He claims in documents that he owes FirstBank $108 million in principal, but that the bank agreed to accept just $40 million to satisfy the mortgage note.

Instead of following through, though, the bank allegedly asked a judge to appoint a receiver over the property, Collier asserts in court documents. As of Tuesday, court documents didn’t include any rebuttals from the bank or list any attorneys for it.

For now, Collier is hoping a bankruptcy court judge will eliminate the receivership and allow Scrub Island Development Group to reorganize its finances.

The bankruptcy filing is awkward timing for Collier, whose Mainsail Lodging and Development is a partner in the Epicurean with Bern’s Steak House owner David Laxer. That 137-room hotel is one of the most anticipated new hotels in years.

Laxer couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday, but fellow Epicurean investor Carl Lindell, a local real estate investor and financier, downplayed the Scrub Island bankruptcy and said it has no bearing on the Epicurean.

“This is just one of the legal nuances between a lender and the developer,” Lindell said.

“There’s absolutely no concern.”

msasso@tampatrib.com

(813) 259-7865

Twitter: @msasso

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