|By Mark Basch, The Florida Times-Union,
JacksonvilleMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
May 09, 2011--With the Chapter 11 bankruptcy case dragging on for more than a year, a Miami bankruptcy judge has been appointed as a mediator to try and resolve the dispute between the owners of the Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa and its major lender, Goldman Sachs Mortgage Co.
Two Irish investment partnerships that own the Ponte Vedra Beach resort, RQB Development LP and RQB Resort LP, filed in March 2010 for a Chapter 11 reorganization in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Jacksonville. The main focus of the case has been a restructuring of $193 million in loans by Goldman Sachs to RQB. Both sides agreed in April to the appointment of a mediator to help come up with a satisfactory reorganization plan.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Paul Glenn in Jacksonville last week issued an order appointing Laurel Isicoff, a judge for the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Florida, as the mediator.
RQB is facing a June 7 deadline to file its bankruptcy reorganization plan. Stephen Busey, a Jacksonville attorney representing RQB, said no dates have been set for the parties to meet with Isicoff. But RQB is hoping the mediation will result in a reorganization plan before the deadline that will allow it to restructure the debt and continue operating the resort.
Isicoff will attempt to mediate the dispute between RQB and Goldman Sachs but is not authorized to issue a binding ruling on the parties, Busey said.
Goldman Sachs spokesman Michael DuVally said Monday the firm will not comment on the case.
Both RQB and Goldman Sachs have agreed that the value of the Sawgrass Marriott has dropped since RQB bought it for $220 million in 2006, but a dispute over the current value of the resort has extended the bankruptcy process. After a hearing in December and a second hearing in February, Glenn ruled that the property is now worth $132 million, meaning that RQB needs to come up with a plan to repay $132 million to Goldman Sachs.
Goldman Sachs has filed motions seeking to foreclose on the property, but Glenn has given RQB time to come up with a restructuring plan for the debt.
The Sawgrass Marriott resort includes a hotel with 348 guest rooms and three restaurants, golf villas with 160 rooms and a beach club with three restaurants. Sawgrass Marriott also has an exclusive partnership that gives resort guests access to the golf courses at the neighboring Tournament Players Club at Sawgrass, site of this week's Players Championship tournament. But the PGA Tour's golf club is not part of the resort.
Mark Basch: (904) 359-4308.
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