In a heavy turnout on May 21st, voters in tiny Minturn, Colorado overwhelmingly (87%) supported a referendum to approve the annexation of 5,300 acres into their town. The land, located on Battle Mountain a short distance from Vail, was purchased by the Ginn Company for $32.75 million. Ginn plans to build a ski resort, including 1700 homes and condominiums, and up to two golf courses on the property.
The annexation was previously approved by a unanimous vote of the town council. However, a few locals felt that Minturn residents should have some say in the decision. This group gained enough support to force the referendum. 357 (50%) of the voters turned out to vote on the referendum compared to only 227 votes cast in April's general election.
To win local support for annexation, Ginn pledged $180 million to improve the town's infrastructure and services. Locals were also promised limited access to the resort's amenities, a concession not given by Ginn at his other private developments. Bobby Ginn has been active in Minturn lately personally lobbying residents.
While Bobby celebrates in Colorado, he faces increasing challenges at some of his other developments:
At Hammock Beach in Palm Coast, FL, the single family residential side is moving forward with several new housing starts. But while the resort gains recognition from the hospitality industry, condominium sales languish. Only a handful of units have changed hands in 2008. According to public records, none of the $million plus contracts for tower units reportedly signed at the Ginn Championship golf tournament in March has closed to date.
2007 property taxes are listed as delinquent on 128 of 337 lots in The Conservatory. 2006 property taxes remain delinquent on 52 of them. Meanwhile, several lots (originally purchased for between $329,900 and $529,900) now listed between $100,000 and $200,000 remain unsold. Ten Conservatory lots are now bank-owned (foreclosed). Fifty more are in foreclosure.
In Yacht Harbor Village, Ginn's marina community on the Intracoastal Waterway in Palm Coast, a handful of condominium units are still unsold. The building received its Certificate of Occupancy in 2006, but the lobby, restaurant, and ships store remain unfinished.
At Bella Collina, Ginn's premier resort on Lake Apopka north of Orlando, 292 of 823 properties are listed on Lake County's 2007 delinquent tax roll. Foreclosures are increasingly common there also, as they are in Tesoro, another Ginn community in Port St. Lucie and Reunion near Orlando. The planned Tesoro Beach Club was never built. Nor was the planned equestrian facility at Bella Collina.
Several lots reported as sold at a fall '07 release event at The BriarRose, a recently acquired Ginn property in Georgia, did not close. Jeff Davis, who recently headed Ginn's real estate sales division and originally developed The BriarRose is no longer with the company. BriarRose is now reportedly for sale.
A lawsuit filed last year in Michigan by disgruntled Ginn property investors has recently been assigned to a Florida jurisdiction. Ginn states that he will vigorously defend against the suit. Two additional lawsuits were reportedly filed in April by Orlando based law firms representing Bella Collina property owners. Several Ginn property owners have indicated that they have been contacted by the same law firms about similar suits the firms plan to file related to Reunion, Tesoro, and The Conservatory.
Hopefully things will go well for Bobby and the Minturn residents. But until a resurgent market arrives to lift the values of existing Ginn community properties, he will likely face continuing pressure from disgruntled property owner/investors and the lawyers who will seek them out.
Toby Tobin is a real estate commentator and Publisher of GoToby.com, the popular real estate news, information, and analysis website for the City of Palm Coast, Flagler County and Northeast Florida. He is a licensed Florida Realtor®.