PREVIOUS COVERAGE | Lender wins Bradenton Prep auction

Herald Staff WritersJuly 3, 2010 

MANATEE — Two minutes and $100.

That’s all it took Friday to push the financially troubled Bradenton Preparatory Academy closer to losing its west Bradenton campus to foreclosure.

With a $100 minimum opening bid, GTE Federal Credit Union won a two-minute online auction of the private school site at 7900 40th Ave. W. No one else bid for the 11-acre campus, which was offered for sale after GTE won a $3.68 million mortgage foreclosure judgment against school owner The Children’s Place Inc.

A second lender, Freedom Holdings Manatee LLC, also has a $1.92 million foreclosure judgment against Children’s Place. That judgment is behind GTE’s in terms of priority.

If no one objects to the transfer, the campus could be in GTE’s possession as soon as July 13.

It’s unknown what GTE will do with the campus, but lenders typically try to sell or lease property they’ve taken through foreclosure.

Robert Schermer, GTE’s attorney in the foreclosure case, did not return a telephone message left with his office Friday. Edward Vogler II, the school’s attorney, declined comment on the sale or the school’s future.

The foreclosure sale was the latest blow for Bradenton Prep, which has been beset by financial problems for more than a year. Besides the foreclosure judgments, the school also faces:

n More than $1.2 million in federal tax liens.

n A state sales-tax lien for $12,300.

n Lawsuit threats from teachers, some of whom say they have not been paid since February.

n A leasing company’s $60,000 court judgment and another leasing company’s pending lawsuit for nearly $93,000.

Those problems led school officials to bring in a foreign investor, Hendrik Lamprecht, who has said he has put $1.5 million into the school thus far.

He also briefly replaced school co-founder Lois Gerber as Children’s Place’s president, and has formed at least three businesses using the school’s name or variations of it.

One, The Prep Learning Academy LLC, is negotiating to lease a 5,000-square-foot storefront at 7700 Cortez Road W. Some former teachers said equipment and supplies are being moved from the Bradenton Prep campus to the storefront.

But Lamprecht contends it’s a separate business venture, unrelated to Bradenton Prep.

“This has nothing to do with Bradenton Prep,” he wrote in an e-mail to the Herald on Friday.

The new business, Lamprecht wrote, is a learning center that will serve students from Manatee and Sarasota counties. Its mission, he said, is to enrich, remediate and support children and will offer evaluation, tutoring and after-school programs including SAT and ACT prep courses.

Lamprecht did not immediately respond to additional questions about Bradenton Prep’s future.

According to incorporation records, Lamprecht is also:

n Managing member of Bradenton Preparatory Academy LLC.

n Managing member of Little Patriots Academic Preschool LLC.

n President of BPA Golf Academy Corp. (formerly known as Bradenton Preparatory Academy Corp.)

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