We talk a lot about the condo market in Big D, but what about our 'lil cow of a sister to the west? This article gives a good peek at what's going, or not going on with condos in FW.
Bank Forecloses on Villa De Leon, sues developers for loss on loan
FORT WORTH -- Southwest Securities in Dallas this month foreclosed on the six-story luxury condo tower and signature property in the Trinity Bluff development on the north end of downtown, and are now suing the developers to recover what it lost on the loan.
Trinity Bluff developers Tom Struhs and Rudy Renda said Monday that they had never missed a payment until January, when they skipped one after the bank told them it would not renew the loan. The developers said they tried renegotiating for an additional three years on the note.
"We were just unable to work anything out with the bank," Struhs said. "We told them we would continue making payments. It's very discouraging."
Villa De Leon, on historic Samuels Avenue, was started in fall 2007, about a year before the financial markets collapsed. Despite the economic downturn, the developers completed the 23-unit tower and opened the building in 2009. Only three of the condos sold, but several others are leased. The condos average 2,500 square feet and were once priced at $800,000 to more than $1 million. They are not currently listed on the Realtor's Multiple Listing Service.
The project is the latest downtown condo development to go belly-up in the aftermath of the recession.
In 2011, 144 unsold condos in Montgomery Plaza on West Seventh Street were sold in a foreclosure auction to Wealth Diversified Fund in Dallas, which had bought a note on the project from Citibank. In 2009, OmniAmerican Bank foreclosed on the 14-unit luxury Le Bijou condo project between Sixth and Seventh and Jones and Grove streets. Since then, 13 units have sold for a little more than half the original asking price.
Downtown Fort Worth has 926 condos and town houses, most of them built in the past decade, either new or in redeveloped older buildings.
Nasser Haghighat, research director for Downtown Fort Worth Inc., said Villa De Leon and Le Bijou are likely victims of bad timing, built when high-end condos were a trend. Now, in the wake of the housing crisis, mortgages on million-dollar condos are nearly impossible to get.
Demand for condos continues in downtown Fort Worth, but not for high-dollar units. Two of the four $1 million-plus penthouses in The Tower, a redeveloped office tower that opened in 2005, are still for sale, as are several luxury condos in the Omni Fort Worth Hotel, near the convention center.
Yet 10 condos in Westview, a smaller project on Henderson Street, all sold during the recession, and the T&P project, which consists of smaller, lower-priced condos on Lancaster Avenue, sold out quickly.
"If these were on the market 18 months before the mess in the financial markets ... most likely they would be sold," Haghighat said of Villa De Leon and Le Bijou. "If you have the right product, people buy them. The demand is there. We do not have that many high-end buyers."
The developers of Villa De Leon face more legal action. Southwest Securities filed suit Friday in state district court in Tarrant County seeking $4.2 million. According to the suit, the bank said it foreclosed March 6 because the developers missed the January payment and didn't cure the default. The developers owed $12.6 million on a $15.6 million note, the suit said. The bank bid $8.4 million for the property at the foreclosure sale and now wants to recover the deficiency, the suit says. A bank spokesman declined to comment Monday.
"We tried to keep it on a positive note. We tried to work it out," Renda said. "In today's banking environment, you don't know what it is. We don't understand."
The 30-acre Trinity Bluff development includes apartment communities, town houses and a 140-room TownPlace Suites hotel. Several acres are undeveloped at the site, property that was part of Fort Worth's first neighborhood.
Sandra Baker, 817-390-7727
Read more here: http://www.star-telegram.com/2012/03...#storylink=cpy