Some or all of the land parcels highlighted in blue will become available for acquisition through a foreclosure auction on Nov. 18, all owned by LLC affiliates of Georgia developer Stan Thomas.
Some or all of the land parcels highlighted in blue will become available for acquisition through a foreclosure auction on Nov. 18, all owned by LLC affiliates of Georgia developer Stan Thomas. (Orange County Property Appraiser)

A sale date of Nov. 18 was set Tuesday morning on more than 400 acres of undeveloped land east of Universal Boulevard and north of Destination Parkway, arguably the most sought after property still available in Orlando's tourism corridor.

But interested buyers may not have to wait until the public foreclosure auction on that date, with an opportunity to buy the plaintiff's judgment and bidding rights on the property as soon as next week, a lead attorney on the case told GrowthSpotter.

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The property is owned by a series of companies affiliated with Georgia businessman Stan Thomas, and had been foreclosed on by Colfin Orlando Funding LLC, a local subsidiary of California-based real estate investment firm Colony Capital. Colfin bought the loan on the property from Thomas' previous lender, the Orlando Sentinel highlighted in a July 31 story.

A status hearing in Orange County Circuit Court on Tuesday culminated in Colfin and the six remaining defendants finalizing an agreement, and judge Alice C. Blackwell setting a sale date of Nov. 18 to auction the property through the county clerk's office. The judgment amount in the case is just over $285 million, including all interest.

A final judgment order could be issued by Judge Blackwell as soon as Friday. Interested buyers could approach Colony Capital through its Colfin attorney, Robert F. Cooke of Miami, immediately after that to buy Colfin's judgment and bidding rights before Nov. 18.

"Some parties have already made proposals to purchase this judgment and bidding rights from my client," Cooke said. "The only time I've ever seen that happen is when a really big developer knows exactly what he wants to do with the property, and makes the offer."

While the judgment amount for the case is $285 million, Colfin has the right to set a bid minimum and a bid threshold for the public foreclosure auction on Nov. 18, Cooke said.

That threshold may be at whatever market value of the land is projected to be, which could be higher or lower than the judgment amount. Colfin could enter the auction and buy at sale if its minimum acceptable value is not met by other bidders.

While Colfin will now have a final judgment, the property won't be foreclosed on until after a sale occurs, and the title is issued.

Atlanta-based developer Thomas has owned the land since 2006 through different entities, after taking out a loan for $325 million to buy this land and more in the tourism corridor. He became delinquent in taxes and loan payments on the land, according to court records, and is losing the largest amount of his property in this $285 million foreclosure settlement.

Much of the property was used decades ago for missile testing by former owner Lockheed Martin. Cooke said Tuesday the land has been properly cleaned up since then by its latest owners, and is in environmental compliance and zoned for a variety of commercial and residential uses.

Orlando-based Unicorp National Developments' CEO Chuck Whittall told GrowthSpotter in May he was pursuing 20 acres or more from Colony Capital along Universal Boulevard for a "dense urban development." Whittall did not immediately respond to calls for comment Tuesday.

Check back for updates to this story.

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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