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$56 million sets a new Manatee foreclosure high

MANATEE — The real estate crash has claimed another proposed development, this time resulting in Manatee County’s largest foreclosure case.

Three banks sued to foreclose on the stalled Sanctuary Cove development in Palmetto last week, saying the developer defaulted on nearly $56.4 million in loans — an amount that court officials said is a local record in a foreclosure case.

“As far as we remember, that’s the largest one we’ve had,” Manatee County Clerk of Court R.B. “Chips” Shore said Monday of the lawsuit, which Wachovia Bank, Fifth Third Bank and Huntington National Bank filed Thursday.

The suit names Sanctuary Residential Partners LLC, Sanctuary Development Partners East LLC, Sanctuary Development Partners LLC, Manatee Island Partners LLC, Larry D. Lipa, Timothy J. Morris, C. Timothy Vining and Linda Svenson as defendants.

They were developing the 211-acre site between U.S. 301 and the Manatee River, which was approved for 916 condos, townhouses and single-family homes, and 200,000 square feet of commercial space.

Lipa, Morris and Vining also are principals of Corvus International, which also built the Bel Mare condominium complex in the neighboring Riviera Dunes development. Svenson was an original member of the partnership that developed Riviera Dunes.

None returned telephone messages Monday, and a Miami attorney representing the banks declined to comment beyond the allegations contained in the lawsuit.

“There are some negotiations going on but I won’t get into it,” William McCaughan said.

The banks contend the defendants defaulted on the loans by not making interest payment since Nov. 28, failing to pay 2008 property taxes and not setting enough money aside to pay the 2009 tax bill. The defendants also failed to complete construction by Aug. 20 as required by the loan terms, the banks said.

Aerial photographs posted on the project’s Web site, sanctuarycovefl.com, indicate extensive site work has been done. The undated photos show a man-made lake and streets, but no homes.

Because a high berm blocks views of the project from U.S. 301, the only publicly visible evidence of development is a sales office fronting the road and a chain-link fence surrounding the property.

The office was locked when a reporter visited late Monday morning, and calls to a number posted outside it went unanswered.

Public records show the Sarasota company that provided the sales office has filed a lien against the property, saying it’s owed nearly $3,700 in rent. And the company that provided and installed the fence also has a filed a lien, saying the developer hasn’t paid the $54,411 bill.

Sanctuary Cove is the latest proposed development in Manatee to fall into foreclosure because of the housing bust. Lenders also are seeking to foreclose on the proposed Arbor Park, Curiosity Creek, Parrish Plantation and SouthBay developments in the greater Parrish area. Riviera Southshore, a similar waterfront project planned in Bradenton, previously was foreclosed upon.

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