NAPLES — The Naples Bay Resort is in the hands of a receiver.
A receiver was appointed Friday, following a 2-1/2 hour hearing in Collier County Circuit Court.
“The receiver will take over the management, the advertising, the marketing, basically take over everything,” said Naples developer Jack Antaramian.
Antaramian recently took over the mortgage for the resort after the lender, Regions Bank, headquartered in Alabama, foreclosed on it.
The amount owed on the mortgage is $36 million. Antaramian invested $10 million in the project himself and still plans to foreclose on it.
Circuit Judge Cynthia Pivacek approved the receiver.
The former management company, Benchmark Hospitality International, seemed to be doing a good job, Antaramian said, but because of a legal conflict with some of his partners in the project he hadn’t received any financial reports for three to six months.
With a receiver, Antaramian expects to be able to keep closer tabs on what’s going on at the resort and its club. The receiver, Fort Myers accountant Gerard McHale, will file profit and expense reports regularly with the court.
“The receiver takes his direction from the court,” Antaramian explained. “So I don’t have any say.”
McHale was traveling and could not be reached for comment. He’s been the receiver for many failed companies and troubled projects in Southwest Florida, including the Big Cypress Marketplace in eastern Collier County, which also faces foreclosure.
The 20-acre Naples Bay resort development is off U.S. 41, near Tin City in downtown Naples.
Eleven of the 30 residences at the project haven’t sold and a handful of the 75 boat slips are sitting empty. New marketing programs will be developed to get more homes sold and more slips rented, Antaramian said.
The 21-room hotel has struggled to fill its rooms.
“In general, hotels are not doing well right now,” Antaramian said. “But I do think this season will be good for hotel rentals.”
“I have a good feeling about the season,” he said. “I already see the difference right now. The other night at Waterside, I was at Bricktop’s with my daughter, and it was packed. People are coming back early.”
He expects to see more demand for the homes at Naples Bay Resort in the coming season. They’re priced at more than $1 million.
“The worst is over,” Antaramian said.
The resort project has struggled for many reasons. It came in $20 million over budget, some buyers backed out of their contracts because of the way they were written and there were problems with the architect, Antaramian said.
The project was developed by Basil Street Partners LLC, which has four partners. The other partners are Fred Pezeshkan, the CEO of Kraft Construction, Raymond Sehayek and Iraj Zand.
Antaramian has been in a legal fight with Kraft Construction, the project’s contractor, to review its accounting records for the project. So far it has been a losing battle.
His three partners fought the receivership, arguing there was no emergency existing to support it.
Antaramian Properties LLC will invest new money into the project.
“Whatever is necessary to keep the doors open,” Antaramian said. “That’s what I’ve agreed to do.”
Connect with Laura Layden at www.naplesnews.com/staff/laura_layden.