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Joyce Endee

900 acres of Mount Washington resort set for June 22 foreclosure auction

May 25, 2011
BRETTON WOODS — Five hundred acres of developable land plus 400 more acres with two golf courses and other built assets — all owned by real estate developer Crosland, Inc., of Charlotte, Va. — will change hands at a planned public foreclosure auction on Wednesday, June 22, according to Charles Adams of Celebration Associates of Hot Springs, Va.

The local Crosland assets, all of which are managed by Celebration Associates, are owned under the name of a parent company: BW Land Holdings, LLC.

The Bretton Woods Land Company (BWLC), LLC, BW Club, LLC, and all other subsidiaries fall under the BWLC umbrella.

The entire asset holding includes some 500 acres of undeveloped land plus another 400 acres, on which are built assets are located: 27 holes of golf, the Rosebrook Recreation Center, stables and paddocks, Nordic-Golf clubhouse, and two utility companies.

The Omni Mount Washington Hotel is owned by an entirely separate entity — CNL Lifestyle Properties, a real estate investment trust (REIT) of Orlando, Fla. The historic resort hotel, its conference center, the Omni Bretton Arms, Fabyans restaurant and The Lodge motel are managed by Omni Hotels of Irving, Texas.

It is very likely that Wells Fargo & Company, a financial services company and bank, will buy the Crosland assets at the June 22 pubic auction, Adams predicted. Wells Fargo took over the assets of Wachovia Bank that previously had funded Crosland's real estate development.

As this is written, Crosland has mailed certified foreclosure notices to all of its stakeholders, including the property's previous owners who still have a stake in a portion of the property.

"Wells Fargo has the financial strength to take the time to develop the property, and I anticipate that the development process will be reinvigorated," Adams said in a Sunday afternoon telephone interview. Those at Wells Fargo, he said, who would oversee the asset if the bank buys it at public auction have visited the property and been impressed after seeing its potential first-hand.

Celebration Associates partners Adams and Mike Brunetti, whose office is on site on the second floor of the Nordic-Golf Center, have told Wells Fargo that they would be willing remain as the management team. Both feel committed to community residents and Bretton Woods' property owners.

The historic 18-hole Donald-Ross-designed championship Mt. Washington Golf Course opened on Saturday for the season. Construction of a new wooden bridge at the hotel's entrance has impacted he 9-hole Mount Pleasant Golf Course that likely will not be able to open until mid-June.

It was nearly five years ago on June 26, 2006, that Crosland and Celebration announced that they had invested $40 million in the land and other assets that surround the historic 1902 Mt. Washington Hotel. Since then an estimated $4 million was spent restoring the 18-hole golf course, including relocating a couple of holes to make way for a conference center at the hotel. Substantial dollars have also been spent surveying, planning, designing, permitting, and doing the necessary legal and startup work for the Dartmouth Brook subdivision, which was put on "hold" in mid-2009 after the real estate bubble burst.

Adams explained that the length and depth of the housing recession — which he characterized as a depression — has forced Crosland to focus its efforts and limited capital on preserving its core business: apartment communities, retail shopping centers, office and industrial space, and multi-family developments.

Although a diversified company, Adams noted that Crosland's portfolio is made up entirely of real estate, much of which is the South and Southeast.

Fortunately, however, Adams said, Crosland has been determined not to take the easy way out and declare bankruptcy. Instead it has been carefully and methodically working to repair the recession's damage.

This means, Brunetti said in a telephone interview, that real estate taxes have been paid to the Town of Carroll, of which Bretton Woods in a part, and local vendors payments are up to date.

Martin Lord & Osman
Salmon Press
Varney Smith
Garnett HIll
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