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East County Thursday, Jun. 4, 2009 8 years ago

Local developer lands on hard times - again

by: Mark Gordon Observer Staff

A Sarasota developer who was once the point man behind bringing an 800-seat theater and a Waldrof-Astoria hotel to downtown Sarasota is being sued for foreclosure on two properties, including his $950,000 East County home.

The developer, Gary Moyer, is facing a financial battle on several other fronts as well, including a $500,000 bill he owes to Manatee County on unpaid impact fees for Gateway to the Ranch, a commercial project just east of Interstate 75 on State Road 70. He also owes a Manatee County commercial condominium association about $100,000 in maintenance costs and fees for another property in which he has a stake.

The troubles facing Moyer, head of Sarasota-based Lions Gate Development, mirror issues he has had during other parts of his 30-year career, such as a personal bankruptcy filing and a spate of conflicts with banks and partners in the mid-1990s.

Moyer, in a June 2 interview with sister business paper GCBR, said his plight is simply a sign of the times, blaming his litany of financial issues and unpaid debts on the well-documented “soft commercial real estate market.” He said he has the money to pay off both foreclosure suits, totaling $1.266 million, which he will do “in the very near future.”

Moyer declined to elaborate on exactly when he would pay back the banks that have initiated the foreclosure process against him. But he told GCBR he earned a big payday last November when his former partners behind the Proscenium project in downtown Sarasota bought out his interests there; the Proscenium, as initially planned by Moyer in 2007, was to be an ambitious $1 billion redevelopment of six acres just north of downtown Sarasota.

A New York-based theater company and the Hilton Hotels chain, parent of the Waldorf-Astoria brand, had signed on as partners with Moyer and the other Proscenium developers last year. That project has yet to obtain financing for construction and a $70 million deal for most of the land recently collapsed.

Citing confidentially requirements, Moyer declined to disclose the exact amount of his Proscenium payment, saying only that it’s sizeable and more than enough to cover his foreclosure debts.

“It would put a smile on your face,” Moyer said of his payments for guiding the Proscenium project through its early stages.

The current developers on the Proscenium project, including Sarasota entrepreneur and businessman Zeb Portanova, declined to comment on Moyer.

Moyer is being sued in the 12th Judicial Circuit in Manatee County by two institutions: RBC Bank sued Moyer May 14 for failure to pay $341,346 on a promissory note he signed in July 2007 for an office condo in the San Marco Plaza in Lakewood Ranch and Deutsche Bank sued Moyer May 22 for $925,028 in mortgage payments and interest on the Lakewood Ranch Country Club home he shares with his wife.     

In addition to those debts, Manatee County officials confirmed Moyer owes $505,101 in impact fees for Gateway to the Ranch. The complex is built but has remained empty for months, save for the coming soon banners hanging from the windows.

Manatee County Building Director John Barnott said the stores will not be given a certificate of occupancy until the fees, or at least a portion of them, are paid. Moyer, however, said he doesn’t technically owe the fees because there are no tenants in the building.

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