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$31.3M forcelosure judgment believed to be Manatee record

MANATEE -- Two banks have won a nearly $31.3 million foreclosure judgment against the developers of a stalled residential project in northern Manatee County, according to court records.

It’s believed to be the largest foreclosure judgment ever in Manatee, court officials said.

In a Nov. 22 ruling, Manatee County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Gallen found that MCZ/Centrum Florida IX LLC owed the money to IberiaBank and PNCBank.

MCZ/Centrum, a joint venture between Chicago developers MCZ Development Inc. and Centrum Properties Inc., borrowed the money to acquire and develop 788.2 acres on the north side of Buckeye Road midway between U.S. 41 and Interstate 75.

The developer won preliminary county approval for 1,594 homes and 150,000 square feet of commercial space for its Curiosity Creek project, named after a water body that meanders through the site.

But the housing market collapsed and MCZ/Centrum later amended its plans to allow more light-industrial development on the site. But it could not repay two loans when they matured in March 2009, and the banks sued to foreclose three months later.

A Jan. 25 auction of the still-agricultural property has been set, court records show.

The previous record-holder was a $28.9 million judgment issued against two Bradenton apartment complexes in September.