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Foreclosure casts shadow on $375M Lake District project

Lake-District-conceptual-drawing-No1-040616The $375-million Lake District development in Lakeland is no longer a sure thing. The Memphis Daily News shocked local residents and city officials last Wednesday with the project’s property foreclosure notice.

The notice was for 33 acres of property owned by Lakeland Station Holding LLC and Gilad Development Corp. at 3536 Canada Road, Lakeland. This is part of the Lake District’s planned 160+ acre mixed-use development at the site of the former Lakeland Factory Outlet Mall off Interstate-40 and Canada Road.

In a Lakeland Currents story, Yehuda Netanel with California-based Gilad Development explained the foreclosure as a temporary issue. He said a new lender acquired the original lender, which is liquidating its loans and properties.

Netanel reportedly expects either the foreclosure will be canceled or he will buy back the property at a discount. The Bartlett Express is currently reaching out to Gilad Development for additional updates.

An Aug. 17 statement on the city’s website said Lakeland’s leaders will be monitoring the situation through the early September foreclosure date.

Lakeland Mayor Wyatt Bunker talked Monday about last week’s intense media interest in the news, as well as his own reaction. He found out about the foreclosure online rather than a direct communication from the developer.

“Early on in the project, I was somewhat concerned about his ability to move forward in the project from the start,” Bunker said. “And when this came through in black and white, we’re looking at this, then I made some comments in the media last week along the lines of ‘Hey, the best thing for the project may be for him to go back to California.’ In other words, let’s cut bait and do ball with someone else. Because we have developers that are wanting to move forward with things, certain things in the city. And I don’t think it would be a problem to get one of those developers on that project and make it a success.”

The Lake District development was planned as one of the largest single capital investments in Shelby County history. Conceptual plans for the proposed development feature a combination of uses such as luxury retail stores, two hotels, restaurants, office spaces, residences, and more.

But city officials emphasize that it’s not the only development opportunity open to Lakeland.

In part, the city’s published response to the foreclosure stated, “No matter the outcome, the City is committed to stimulating private development of the Lake District project regardless of property ownership.

“The Lake District is an important project for the City of Lakeland but is only one of several projects that are currently in progress, including the new interchange, Bevele Rivera Road extension, the Lakeland Commons mixed use development, the 100-acre mixed-use development at Canada/Davies Plantation, new residential developments including Oakwood Grove, Kensington Manor, and Herons Ridge C&D, plus several smaller scale commercial projects including a new McDonald’s and the new Pet Hospitals of Lakeland facility. “

The Lakeland Industrial Development Board has not taken action yet on the developer’s latest request to vouch for the city’s interest in the project. The developer is seeking a new agreement between him and the city to help him win back the confidence of his financial backers.

The mayor explained, “It’s simply a statement of support from the IDB to Yehuda and to his financing institution on the project.”

Netanel and the city are currently negotiating the requested agreement. Bunker said it will be a construction agreement with a strict timetable, and he expects that it will not extend past 90 days. He declined to give further details while negotiations are still underway but said any approved agreement would benefit both the developer and the city.

If the Lake District plans do come to fruition, it would mean about 1,200 permanent employees in the total project with employment levels ranging from entry-level through retail associates, professionals and management. This is in addition to thousands of construction jobs.


CAROLYN BAHM is the editor of The Bartlett Express. Contact her at (901) 433-9138 or via email to carolyn.bahm@journalinc.com.

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