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Developer Stan Thomas faces foreclosure suits in other states alongside I-Drive case

Developer Stan Thomas faces foreclosure suits in other states alongside I-Drive case
Highlighted in blue are six land parcels on or near International Drive and Universal Boulevard that are owned by affiliates of Georgia-based Thomas Land & Development, with its upland acreage cited in a foreclosure lawsuit filed in October 2017. Two other parcels involved in the suit are out of frame. (Orange County Property Appraiser / staff edit)

Georgia-based developer Stan Thomas, an influential land owner in Orlando's tourism corridor with local property facing foreclosure, is dealing with a new foreclosure threat for one of the largest developments in Dallas, and has staved off foreclosure of a Nashville-area project for much of the past year.

In Texas' Collin County, near Dallas, two lenders provided more than $130 million in loans for the 175-acre, $2 billion Wade Park mixed-use project planned by an affiliate of Thomas Land & Development LLC. They've declared the developer in default and scheduled a forced sale for March 6 to recoup the debt, The Dallas Morning News reported last week.

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Stanley E. Thomas, founder and CEO of Georgia-based Thomas Land & Development LLC.
Stanley E. Thomas, founder and CEO of Georgia-based Thomas Land & Development LLC. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Wade Park was planned to be one of the largest commercial real estate developments in Dallas. Work stopped several months ago on the project and contractors have filed millions of dollars in liens, per the newspaper.

Officials with Thomas' company said they are negotiating with the Dallas project lenders to avoid foreclosure. Thomas did not respond to requests for comment for this story.

In Tennessee, Thomas also juggled a bankruptcy filing and two threats of foreclosure through much of 2017 over $27 million owed to lender Paramount Capital. Thomas Ovation LLC owns 77 acres in the city of Franklin that is part of the 147-acre Ovation mixed-use development, with Thomas' half planned for up to 950 residential units, a boutique hotel and 480,000 square feet of retail.

Paramount scheduled a foreclosure twice on Thomas' land in 2017. His company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection to avoid the first one, and exited that bankruptcy in mid-August with an Oct. 31 deadline to pay the lender. By November, Thomas successfully negotiated an extension until early this year to repay Paramount Capital.

Thomas also faced a federal court lawsuit last year in Georgia by J.P. Morgan Chase, which said he failed to pay more than $5 million owed on a private jet loan.

In Orlando, Thomas affiliates have faced a foreclosure claim since mid-October on 82 acres around the Orange County Convention Center, GrowthSpotter reported Dec. 7.

An affiliate of investment firm Ardent Financial is demanding more than $27.6 million owed for a loan made in July 2015, specifically for 82 upland acres found within 260.5 gross acres owned by Thomas affiliates OHL Holdings and Universal City Property Management III (UCPM III).

The lender has placed a lien on the mortgage, wants a judge to foreclose, and then a deficiency judgment against Thomas affiliates if sale of the land doesn't cover its claim. The mortgage gives Ardent Financial a security interest in the properties.

Thomas' affiliates are still negotiating with the lender to resolve the dispute, possibly by bringing in a new lender.

No new developments in the local case have been made since early January, when Thomas' companies and trustees of the Thomas Family Trust offered standard answers and affirmative defenses to the original complaint in Orange County's Ninth Circuit Court.

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Some of the 82 acres facing foreclosure lie in strategic position to Universal Orlando's land assets. Thomas' UCPM III has a separate lawsuit active against Universal that seeks to maintain his unique authority to approve new theme park development on land near Universal Boulevard.

Various affiliates of Thomas still own more than 862 acres in the tourist corridor, many with different debt and equity partners involved.

Thomas started in Georgia real estate development in the early 1980s, and became a leading developer during that decade of retail power centers across the southeast United States.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at bmoser@growthspotter.com, (407) 420-5685 or @bobmoser333. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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