The company’s managing partner, Ed Rodgers, said the action follows months of attempts to right the operation, which lost ground as the nation’s real estate market began souring in 2008.
The company, comprised of partners Rodgers and Naples businessman Rick Grimes, defaulted on an interest payment in March and Jefferson Development Corporation controlled by Ed and Mark Vannoy took over management following an Ashe County District Court judge’s order Tuesday.
Mark Vannoy said Friday that the bankruptcy filing has thrown into question how the operation will be managed, but that he and Ed want to reassure the community that the company will do what it can to make it work. Jefferson Landing with its attraction of golfers and others to live, work and golf around the development is a large part of the Ashe County economy, he said
After last-minute attempts to make other arrangements for financing the debt, Rodgers said, his last option was a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing.
“I certainly wish this had turned out a different way,” he said Friday.
Rodgers, who has been in golf community sales and management since 1985, formed Jefferson Landing LLC in 2005 and took over ownership and management in March of that year. “The first three years were the best in the history of the development,” he said. The operation at the time included about 120 single-family residential sites and sites for approximately 150 multi-family units. Also taken over by Rodgers in 2005 were the clubhouse, the lodge and the golf course.
The new company made improvements that year to the course, upgrading tees and other aspects of the course, Rogers said. They also put in a clay surface on the tennis courts to better match the style of play of potential users, he said.
“It has never had the number of members to sustain itself,” Rogers said of the course. That would be typical of a developing course he said. Until 2008, the operation of the course was subsidized by sale of hoe sites. Those sales averaged 15 per year for the first three years but plummeted to two each of the last two years.
That coincided with the fall in the housing market that has plagued real estate sales nationwide.
“We have never see the kind of economic downturn that we have seen,” Rogers said.
Other real estate specialists in Ashe County have reported lot sales plummeting in price. Houses that are selling tend to be in the $100,000 to $160,000 price range those agents say.
High end development sites that were offered for $90,000 to $110,000 two years ago are now being offered for $20,000, the realty professionals say.
Rogers remains hopeful for he future of real estate in Ashe County. “Because we did not see the white hot real estate boom like some places, we are in a much better position than places like South Florida. There someone may have paid $1.5 million for a 2,500 square-foot condo that won’t sell for $250,000 now.”
Vannoy said Jefferson Development Corporation ran the club during the first 15 years of its existence.
“We took over management to make sure that it got the maintenance needed to protect the assets and to keep the dining and course going the way that members deserve,” Vannoy said.
He said his company paid employees for the last week under Jefferson Landing LLC employment and intend to continue that in the future.
The bankruptcy filing left in question what the company could legally do. “We have been meeting with lawyers this afternoon to sort that out,” Vannoy said. “We want to assure the community that we will get it to work.”