Financing in place to keep Naples Bay Resort running through 2012, receiver says

Lexey Swall/Staff 
 Hotel guests Joseph and Claudia Trott, of Germany, spend time near the water behind The Hotel at Naples Bay Resort in 2011. The resort needs more than $3 million to stay open through the end of the year.

Photo by LEXEY SWALL

Lexey Swall/Staff Hotel guests Joseph and Claudia Trott, of Germany, spend time near the water behind The Hotel at Naples Bay Resort in 2011. The resort needs more than $3 million to stay open through the end of the year.

It appears the Naples Bay Resort will get the money it needs to keep operating through the end of the year.

"Everything is in place," said Jerry McHale, a court-appointed receiver who is overseeing the resort's operations.

During a phone-only hearing on Wednesday, all sides involved in the bankruptcy case agreed to accept a Texas investment group's offer of more than $3 million in new financing, enough to pay the resort project's bills through December.

The bankruptcy judge must still formally sign off on the new financing.

"The terms are currently being worked out," McHale said. "I have every reason to believe it will be approved. I don't doubt that at all."

The money will help cover the cost of everything from the payroll and the electric bills to the real estate taxes and the operating fees.

Last year, the same Texas investment group stepped forward with an offer for long-term financing, but it was rejected after the project's partners squabbled over it. In a compromise, the partners accepted short-term financing from another investor, which will run out at the end of April.

This time, the financing terms offered by the Texas group were seen as more favorable.

The bankruptcy judge, Jeffery Hopkins, still must sign off on an order to approve the financing.

Jack Antaramian, a prominent developer and one of the partners in the project, described Wednesday's hearing as productive and positive.

"Everybody cooperated and it seemed to me everybody was on the same page, in terms of trying to get the financing put in place," he said.

With the financing expected to be finalized soon, Antaramian said the resort's management won't have to file a so-called WARN notice with the state. Companies have to file a notice with the state under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act if there's a threat of going out of business and letting go more than 50 employees in the next 60 days.

The resort — off U.S. 41 near Tin City in downtown Naples — has more than 100 employees.

Paying the bills has been a struggle because of all the legal battles involving the partners and a foreclosure filing. The project is more than just a hotel — there are ongoing sales of yacht slips and condominiums.

Last year, Antaramian and several other creditors filed an involuntary petition for Chapter 7 bankruptcy against the resort's development company, Basil Street Partners, which he's a partner in.

Antaramian is at odds with his three other partners, who have unsuccessfully fought to dismiss the bankruptcy case.

In 2010, Regions Bank, a lead lender, foreclosed on the Naples Bay Resort project after Antaramian and his partners defaulted on a $36 million mortgage.

Antaramian later stepped into the shoes of the bank, buying the note for $8.7 million.

A foreclosure trial before a judge is scheduled for Oct. 15 in state court.

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