Bank suing owner of Carroll golf courses

Lender claims default by corporation that owns Challedon, Bear Creek

February 12, 2003|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

The corporate owners of two Carroll County golf courses were ordered yesterday to appear in court later this month to answer a demand that a receiver be appointed to handle the businesses.

Representatives of Gotham Golf Club LLC, a corporation based in Hershey, Pa., that owns The Links at Challedon Golf Club in Mount Airy and the Bear Creek Golf Club near Westminster, are to appear in Carroll Circuit Court on Feb. 26 under an order signed by Carroll Circuit Judge Raymond E. Beck Sr.

The judge's order came in response to a civil action, filed Monday by the Banc of America Commercial Finance Corp., claiming that more than $8 million is due on loans made to the two golf courses.

Similar actions have been filed against 16 other golf facilities owned by Gotham, including three in Frederick and Montgomery counties, said Shirley Norton, spokeswoman for Bank of America in San Franciso.

Affidavits filed with the lawsuit allege that Gotham missed loan payments last month and this month, which allows the bank to call in all the loans - a total of more than $75 million - due under a 2000 agreement for 18 courses in six states, from Pennsylvania and New Jersey, south to Florida.

The filing of the lawsuits comes as New York's attorney general is investigating Gotham Partners Management, described as a hedge fund whose two principals - who are not defendants in the Carroll lawsuit - said they were heavily invested in Gotham Golf but were thwarted by a federal judge in their plans to rescue their investment, according to news accounts.

The bank's proposed order in the Carroll lawsuit would have the judge appoint a receiver and a management company to take possession and run the courses.

In addition to the missed loan payments, Gotham was having trouble meeting its payroll and had not paid more than $1.6 million for golf carts and turf-maintenance services, according to an affidavit by Vinh T. Ngo, a vice president of the bank's Real Estate Managed Assets Department in Los Angeles.

Attempts to obtain comment from Gotham Golf officials were unsuccessful.

Both Carroll golf courses were open yesterday.

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