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Florida Keys News - Islamorada/KL Free Press
Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Winn-Dixie site set for auction, but developer promises funds

ISLAMORADA -- A property that is supposed to be the site of the Upper Matecumbe Key Winn-Dixie has been foreclosed upon and is scheduled to go up for auction on the courthouse steps in Key West next Tuesday.

But the managing partner of developer Net5-FDA says the matter will be resolved in time to prevent the auction from happening.

"There is a new loan coming in place, paying off the existing lender," Net5's Paul Rohan told the Free Press last week.

The 29,000-square-foot Winn-Dixie, which would be located at mile marker 81, oceanside, cleared its final hurdle before the Village Council in late June, when council members approved the building rights allocation developers had long needed to go forward with the project. At the time, Net5 said it would likely begin construction by mid-August.

But since that time, the foreclosure case, brought in February by lender Preferred Income Partners IV against Net5, has gone unresolved. Net5 owes the lender $2.92 million, court records show.

Winn-Dixie didn't respond to Free Press questions about the scheduled auction. Spokeswoman Mayra Hernandez instead issued a generic statement.

"We are excited about the project and anxious to serve the residents of Islamorada," she said.

Rohan, too, didn't provide specifics about the purported resolution of the case. As of Monday, there was nothing in the court file showing that it has been resolved and Preferred Income Partners attorney Norman Vaughan-Birch didn't respond to phone messages from the Free Press.

But Rohan was resolute that everything will be taken care of by Oct. 9. He said Net5 will pull the permit for the project this week.

"Coming soon, Winn-Dixie will be on the property," he said.

Rohan said that Net5 also plans to resolve another foreclosure that would affect the Winn-Dixie project ahead of a scheduled Oct. 17 auction. The subject of that case is the Galleria property, which sits immediately to the south of the Winn-Dixie site.

Under the terms of its development approval, Net5, must either purchase the site or obtain a cross-access agreement there before it can build the market.

In February 2011, Estate Services Limited filed a foreclosure case against property owner Gilmour South, which is owned by Islamorada resident Michael Anzalone. Gilmour owes the lender $1.6 million, court records show.

Both Anzalone and Rohan said that Net5 purchased Gilmour last week, giving the company control over the Galleria site. Rohan said that Net5 will pay off Gilmour's debt so the Oct. 17 auction does not go forward.

rsilk@keysnews.com

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