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Developer of Condo-hotel Project in
 Key Largo, Florida Files for Bankruptcy

By David Goodhue,, The Reporter, Tavernier, Fla.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Oct. 19, 2007 - Firm planning condo-hotel project wants to reorganize

A development company planning to build a condo-hotel in Key Largo has filed for bankruptcy protection.

DB Key Largo paid almost $9 million in 2005 for bayfront property at mile marker 104. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Sept. 28 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Under Chapter 11, a company is protected from creditor lawsuits while it reorganizes.

DB Key Largo is one of several companies owned or managed by Dana Berman. Another Berman company, DB Islamorada, is the developer of the nearly complete Indigo Bay condominium at mile marker 81.6 in Islamorada.

DB Islamorada had liens filed throughout the year by business claiming the developer owed them money. It's unclear whether any of the claims remain unpaid, or if the bankruptcy filing and financial troubles at other Berman companies will have any effect on the 25-unit Indigo Bay development.

Indigo Bay townhouses have been advertised for $700,000 to $1.3 million in local media, including The Reporter.

Representatives from the Berman Group, the company behind both developments, did not return phone calls for this report. Nor did a restructuring officer who took over management of Berman's mortgage company. The mortgage company lent millions of dollars to DB Islamorada for Indigo Bay.

According to the filing, DB Key Largo owes creditors $14 million and has assets of $10 million.

DB Key Largo plans to build 20 condominium-hotel units -- 19 two-bedroom, two-and-a-half bathroom units and a one-bedroom, one-and-a-half bathroom unit -- on the 2.65-acre former site of Hobos Restaurant and Marina, Neptune's Hideaway and Kelly's Motel, according to the Monroe County Department of Planning and Environmental Resources.

DB Key Largo is managed by DBKL Manager of Coconut Grove, whose president is Berman.

Berman is also the principal of The Berman Group. The company's Web site says it specializes in "property development, mortgage lending and mortgage asset management through its three subsidiaries."

The subsidiaries are Mortgage Asset Management Corp., New Urban Places, which markets Indigo Bay, and Places Realty.

Besides the Indigo Bay and Key Largo projects, Mortgage Asset Management Corp. lent almost $5 million to a project in Key West, according to its Web site.

Almost $6 million of the money DB Key Largo used to buy the Key Largo site was lent by Mortgage Asset Management Corp. DB Key Largo also took out a $6.2 million mortgage from TIB Bank, according to Monroe County Clerk records. The mortgage ended up with Philrich of Key Largo, a lender based in Ft. Lauderdale, for a $5.2 million promissory note, records show.

Bankruptcy records also show another Berman company, DBDS Melbourne, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in May. The filing shows DBDS Melbourne owes creditors more than $17 million.

The company's Web site says Mortgage Asset Management Corp. has lent money to more than 105 Berman Group projects using investor funds. According to an article in the South Florida Business Journal, when the company fell behind on payments to investors, Berman turned over operations to Alan Goldberg, chief restructuring officer with Crisis Management of Miami.

According to the New Urban Places Web site, Berman is also developing projects in Miami, Miami Beach, North Miami, Tampa, Biloxi, Miss. and South Carolina.


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