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Foreclosure suit may jeopardize Parrish library

PARRISH — Plans for a new branch library in Parrish could be in jeopardy.

A South Carolina bank wants to foreclose on a proposed residential project whose developer had pledged to set aside land for a library, court records show.

Parrish Plantation LLC defaulted on loans used to buy the 264-acre site at U.S. 301 and State Road 62, Mercantile Bank said in a lawsuit filed in Manatee County Circuit Court on Monday. The bank said the developer, formed by principals of Stokes Land Group LLLP in Jacksonville, now owes almost $7.7 million in principal and interest.

Scott R. Griffith, president of Parrish Plantation LLC, declined to comment Wednesday.

The company’s proposed Parrish Plantation project won preliminary county approval in 2007 for 488 homes and 139,100 square feet of retail and office space. Those plans also included dedicating 16.8 acres for a possible library and an adjacent YMCA.

County library officials were unavailable Wednesday. But John Osborne, the county’s planning director, noted the library site requirement is tied to the land regardless of who owns or eventually develops it.

“If it’s taken back by the bank, the same requirements and obligations apply,” he said.

Ben Jordan, president of the Parrish Civic Association, said the proposed Parrish Plantation library was “far off in the future” and not a given.

“We realize they don’t have the money to build a nice new library in Parrish Plantation,” said Jordan, who advocated expanding the Rocky Bluff library in Ellenton in the meantime.

Early talks about placing a YMCA in Parrish Plantation did not progress far, said Sean Allison, the Manatee County YMCA’s president and chief executive.

“We never got anywhere in terms of discussing that in a formal way,” he said Wednesday. “It was just exploratory.”

Instead, the YMCA continues to use the old Parrish schoolhouse and is scouting other possible sites for a future permanent facility to serve the area, Allison said.

Parrish Plantation is the latest stalled development in northern Manatee to face foreclosure, court records show.

The others — Arbor Park, Curiosity Creek and SouthBay (formerly known as Stone Dam Preserve) — had preliminary approval for 3,869 homes and 330,000 square feet of commercial space combined.

Duane Marsteller, transportation reporter, can be reached at 745-7080, ext. 2630.