|By Emily Lane, The Natchez Democrat,
Miss.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Nov. 10, 2011--NATCHEZ -- Owners of the Grand Soleil Resort, under pressure from bankruptcy proceedings, have put the resort and casino site up for sale.
Equity Partners, the company the Grand Soleil hired to market the properties, recently began a 60-90 day search for buyers or investors, company managing director Hank Waida said.
"The good part about (the sale) is we (can) find folks that have the wherewithal to buy the facility, and everybody gets to keep their job," Waida said.
Additionally, a sale might lure a buyer with the resources to develop the casino and create more jobs, he said.
The two properties, which can be sold separately or together, include a 6-acre, three-building hotel site and a 15-acre, waterfront-approved casino site.
The Grand Soleil's former third property, The Briars, was sold within the last two weeks, said the resort's attorney, John D. Moore.
Leon and Krisi Atkins of Natchez purchased the bed and breakfast.
Moore said Equity Partners is well-known in the bankruptcy world for successfully marketing properties to find buyers, investors or lenders for properties going through bankruptcy.
The current owners have a chance of keeping part of all of the property if investors enter a joint venture with them and the resort is refinanced, he said.
"A sale is probably the more likely of the two scenarios," Moore said.
A press release from Equity Partners says the Grand Soleil invested more than $12 million on planning and infrastructure at the casino site. But when the market crashed in 2008, the company was not able to complete its financing and was forced to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
A September court document lists the Adams County tax collector as holder of one of the resort's 20 largest claims. The document says the Grand Soleil owes $114,400 in ad valorem taxes.
Adams County Tax Collector Peter Burns said Wednesday that the total, including real estate and personal property taxes in 2009 and 2010, could be up to $200,000 plus interest.
Original plans for the proposed casino included a 30,000-square foot gaming floor to accommodate 770 slots, 13 table games and four poker tables. Also included in the plans, which have never come to fruition, were an 80-seat buffet, a deli and a bar with entertainment area for 200-400 people.
Waida said Equity Partners would advertise the property in several trade publications including gaming, real estate, venture capital and merger and acquisition publications.
Equity Partners will accept highest bids possible, and the bankruptcy court must approve any sale.
Anyone interested in purchasing either of the Grand Soleil properties should contact Equity Partners at 866-969-1115.
Grand Soleil's bankruptcy proceedings follow recent years of financial troubles and failure to develop a proposed casino project.
Britton and Koontz bank has initiated and canceled foreclosure proceedings against Grand Soleil four times in recent years. Grand Soleil also evaded foreclosure proceedings initiated by United Mississippi Bank in December 2009.
In May, several local private creditors including Good Hope Construction, Farmer Electrical Service Company and Ketco petitioned to force Grand Soleil into involuntary Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Grand Soleil reportedly owned the companies a total of $1.6 million. The resort elected to enter voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy in August.
Under Chapter 11, Grand Soleil's reorganization plan must be accepted by a majority of its creditors.
(c)2011 The Natchez Democrat (Natchez, Miss.)
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