Bank foreclosing on Windermere
takes sad turn
CAMDENTON—The 941 acres of Windermere property acquired and mortgaged by Springfield Developer William Jester in 2006 is now facing a foreclosure sale on the Camden County courthouse steps on Nov. 6, according to a legal notice published in a local newspaper.
Windermere Development Company, LLC, owned by Jester, has allegedly defaulted in payments due on a mortgage on the property, resulting in the publication of a foreclosure notice in the Lake Sun Leader, a newspaper in Camdenton on Oct. 15.
Jester’s company acquired title to the land in February 2006, from National City Bank, who acquired it from Windermere Baptist Conference Center. The foreclosure notice does not affect the 300-plus acres retained by the conference center corporation.
The land at stake was originally owned by the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC), which transferred title in March 2001 to a new corporation set up to manage the property, Windermere Baptist Conference Center, whose trustees were to be elected by the Convention. That corporation board changed its charter to be a self-perpetuating board in July 2001, breaking ties with the Convention and claiming title to the 1,300-acre facility.
The foreclosure notice will not change the MBC’s legal position or strategy in its effort to recover five breakaway agencies including Windermere Baptist Conference Center, according to MBC Lead Attorney Michael Whitehead.
“We are asking the Cole County court to declare that the MBC should get all 1,300 acres back, free and clear of any liens or other transfers. We intend to get that case to trial on Feb. 1,” Whitehead said.
“Meanwhile, we have a separate petition filed in Camden County, naming all the parties who are involved in this foreclosure. We expect to take whatever steps are necessary to prevent the transfer of this land to any third party. Anyone who buys this land takes it subject to our pending litigation, and stands to lose it when we obtain a court judgment. ”
After borrowing over $20 million in 2003, the board defaulted on its loan to National City Bank (NCB). In November 2005, the breakaway board conveyed 941 acres of undeveloped land to NCB by a “deed in lieu of foreclosure.” In February 2006, NCB conveyed the 941 acres to Windermere Development Company, LLC, which was newly formed by Jester. The plan at the time was for Jester to build town houses, villas, condominiums, private residences, commercial buildings and a possible retirement facility, according to a March 2006 press release posted on the Windermere website.
When Jester got title to the land, he mortgaged it for about $5.5 million to Consolidated Mortgage, Inc., in Las Vegas, to pay off NCB for this tract.
NCB had obtained title to the 941 acres from the breakaway Windermere trustees in November 2005 as part of a re-financing plan. Windermere corporation retains title to about 300 acres of developed lake-front property, now mortgaged to two California banks for about $14 million.
The MBC court action is attempting to recover the corporations for Windermere, The Baptist Home, Missouri Baptist College, Word & Way and the Missouri Baptist Foundation, with combined assets of about $250 million. The agencies now have self-perpetuating trustee boards after trustees, disgruntled with the conservative direction of the MBC, voted to amend all five agency charters so they could name their successors. The MBC alleges the trustees’ action violated Missouri law since the MBC had the right in the charters to elect agency trustees, and since the agencies did not get permission from the MBC to amend their charters.
“The good news seems to be that Mr. Jester is not going to be cutting down more trees or developing this land while we are trying the Windermere case on February 1,” commented Whitehead. “The foreclosure notice probably means that Mr. Jester cannot find other lenders who are willing to take the risk of investing money in this land during the pending litigation. They are wise not to do so.”
“The breakaway boat is sinking. This should strengthen the resolve of the MBC to recover these agencies.”