Ex- MBC Executive Director’s company tries to buy Windermere
January 10, 2006
JEFFERSON CITY — A legal investigation has revealed that Windermere Baptist Conference Center was on the verge of foreclosure in the fall of 2005 and that a failed attempt to purchase Windermere real estate was made by Resource Development, Inc. (RDI), a Springfield company with ties to James (Jim) Hill, his brother Jerald Hill and Springfield businessman William Jester. Investigation into the multi-million bank loans, real estate deeds, bond sales and timber operations continued as the trial judge on Jan. 4 extended the temporary restraining order (TRO) against Windermere until Jan. 18, the next status hearing for Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) lawyers.
After the Jan. 4 conference call with Cole County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Brown, III, MBC attorney Michael Whitehead provided a preliminary report to the MBC Executive Board regarding his investigation and the facts he has discovered since the TRO was first entered on Dec. 19. In his report, Whitehead said bank officials had confirmed that Windermere sought to avoid foreclosure last year by considering a land sale to Resource Development, Inc. The company failed to obtain the financing intended to purchase the land, so the land was deeded over to National City Bank (NCB) as part of an elaborate refinancing plan.
Under the plan, 1,000 acres of Windermere land was conveyed by special warranty deed to NCB. NCB apparently reduced Windermere’s loan balance from about $21 million to $14 million. Then two California banks loaned Windermere the money to pay off the NCB note, in an arrangement brokered in part by California Plan of Church Finance, Inc., a church bond firm related to the California Baptist Foundation. The new lenders and Reliance Trust Company of Atlanta, Ga., as trustee, recorded a Future Advance Deed of Trust against Windermere’s remaining real estate, securing the $14 million loan, and also securing future advances of up to $30 million. The promissory notes to the California banks apparently have a one year term, expiring on Nov. 15. At that time, the $14 million dollar loan, plus interest, must be refinanced or paid down with proceeds from the sale of church bonds.
James Hill was the former Executive Director of the MBC, who now works for RDI Consulting, a firm also with ties to the Jester family. James Hill’s brother, Jerald, is an attorney for Jester’s businesses.
Details of the failed Jester-Hill sale were not yet available, according to MBC attorney Whitehead.
“Depositions of various parties have been scheduled but not yet completed,” Whitehead told The Pathway, newsjournal of the MBC. “We have subpoenaed Mr. Jester, Jerald Hill, and their companies for their depositions on Jan. 12, but we expect there will be delays and objections before we actually get them completed. We will advise the court of our progress at the next status conference on Jan. 18. Meanwhile, the temporary restraining order remains in effect.”
Whitehead said one bank lawyer told him that RDI may still be trying to buy Windermere land, if they can find alternate financing.
“We will take whatever steps we must to expose this plan to the light of day, and to ask Judge Brown to stop it.”