The 6,000-acre Laurelmor development in Watauga and Wilkes counties — planned as a luxury golf resort and housing development — has been sold by the Florida-based Ginn Corporation under a Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation. A report in Boone’s Watauga Democrat says that the value of the transfer is listed as some $32 million according to deed stamps on file in the two counties.
Laurelmor, which began sales in December 2006, was touted as the “biggest private development ever in western North Carolina” by a report in Business North Carolina in August of last year. It would compete, according to that article, with the “ritziest, including Mountain Air, near Burnsville, where the rich arrive on private planes to play golf above the clouds, and The Cliffs at High Carolina, near Swannanoa, where owners will drive and putt on the first course Tiger Woods has designed on American soil.” But the same article outlined the shadow of developer Bobby Ginn’s earlier, “spectacular” bankruptcy on Hilton Head Island in South Carolina — Ginn’s home state — that resulted in “Honk if Bobby owes you” bumper stickers.
As outlined by a goblueridge report, the Laurelmor project, along with three other Ginn resorts, failed to meet principal and interest payments on their $675 million loan, resulting in Chapter 7 bankruptcy and the subsequent sale. Laurelmor was purchased by BR Development Group LLC and Blowing Rock Resort Venture LLC, companies formed in Georgia in December and tied to Reynolds Capital Group of Atlanta. At the time of transfer, some 200 lots had been sold and road construction had begun on the property.
“Banks don’t want to lend money on high-end real estate,” said a Laurelmor spokesman quoted by Business North Carolina, which noted that another WNC developer has suffered the same consequences: The Florida-based Land Resource LLC, which owned the 4,000-acre Grey Rock development near Lake Lure in Rutherford County and a similar project, Wild Ridges in McDowell County, closed both sales offices in 2008 after selling some 450 and 150 of the 900 lots in each, respectively.
— Nelda Holder, associate editor