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Date of Issue: March 17, 2005

Tidemark files for bankruptcy protection

Tidemark Partners filed for Chapter 11 federal bankruptcy protection last week, likely ending any chance the company - at least in its current form - can develop its planned 40-unit marina/condo/hotel at the site of the former Pete Reynard's/Marina Bay Restaurant in Holmes Beach. The company had received site plan approval from the Holmes Beach City Commission for construction of the project in August 2001.

The bankruptcy petition came after Regions Bank of Florida foreclosed in December on a first mortgage against the property for $1.7 million. Second mortgage holder Brasaota Mortgage Inc. filed a foreclosure notice last November for $1.7 million to protect its interest.

According to the online database of the U.S. Federal Bankruptcy Court in Tampa, Tidemark Partners LLC, doing business as "Tidemark Lodge and Marina," filed its bankruptcy papers Jan. 21. The company is represented by Tampa attorney Stephen R. Leslie.

Tidemark listed 51 creditors in its application, but was not required to supply specific amounts owed in its initial filing.

Included in the creditors list is Nick Easterling, who is himself the managing general partner of Tidemark Partners LLC.

Easterling said that after a proposed partnership with the Dallas-based Parliament Group collapsed in December, another real estate venture group, EFO of Dallas, agreed to come into the project, but suggested bankruptcy as a means of protection.

"So, we have a loan commitment from EFO for just under $4 million and we'll take that to the judge. If he accepts it, we plan on being out of bankruptcy within 90 to 120 days," he said confidently.

"The bankruptcy petition is just to give us time to reorganize. My goal is still to get everybody paid," Easterling pledged, "and these guys (EFO) have agreed to fund the project."

Other creditors listed on the bankruptcy include the Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Office of the U.S. Attorney and the State of Florida Department of Revenue.

The company and its attorney will meet with court trustees on Feb. 20 to establish assets, while Tidemark has until May 20, 2004, to file a reorganization plan, according to the online information.

Regions Bank foreclosed on its mortgage in December and plans on selling its interest Feb. 12 on the Manatee County Courthouse steps, unless an offer is accepted prior to the sale.

Attorney Scott Cichon, representing Regions Bank, has said several parties have contacted him about purchasing the mortgage, but no offer has been received.

"We still plan on the courthouse sale on Feb. 12," he said.

The controversial Tidemark project was approved by the city commission in August 2001, and Easterling also obtained a Florida Department of Environmental Protection permit to expand a seawall on the northeast side of the property along the inlet.

The restaurant and two duplexes on the site were demolished, but construction on the condominiums never began.

If built, the condominiums were expected to sell for between $450,000 to $600,000, making the total project worth an estimated $20 million.

Holmes Beach Building Official Bill Saunders has said previously that site plan approval goes with the property. Any interested party looking for the same approval for a 40-unit condominium complex with adjoining marina would have to buy the property.

A new proposal for any construction, said Saunders, would require an entirely new site plan.

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