Sale of Windermere halted by payments
CAMDENTON – A foreclosure sale scheduled for Nov. 6 has been halted indefinitely regarding land formerly owned by Windermere Baptist Conference Center (WBCC) in Camden County. The 941 acres of Lake of the Ozarks property is currently owned by Windermere Development Company, LLC, and Springfield developer Bill Jester. The undeveloped land surrounds about 360 acres of developed land still owned by WBCC, where the conference facilities are located.
On Oct. 31, an attorney for Consolidated Mortgage LLC of Henderson, Nevada, confirmed that the lender had signed a “forbearance agreement” with Jester, who paid an undisclosed sum of money to the lender as consideration for the “forbearance agreement.” In exchange for the payments, the lender agreed to cancel the Nov. 6 sale date, and allow Jester some additional time to seek a new bank to re-finance the $6.6 million debt.
The Pathway reported Oct. 19 that Windermere Development Company, LLC, had defaulted in payments due on a mortgage on the 941 acres of lake property, resulting in the publication of a foreclosure notice in the Lake Sun Leader, a newspaper in Camdenton Oct. 15.
If Jester is unable to find refinancing within the agreed time (which was not disclosed), the foreclosure process could be commenced again, according to the lender’s attorney.
MBC legal counsel Michael Whitehead said he would continue to monitor any lending activity affecting the 941 acres owned by the Jester company, as well as any activity affecting the 350 core acres retained by the conference center corporation. The conference center acreage is subject to mortgages of about $14 million, owed to two California banks. Whitehead said that commencing trial on the Windermere case in Cole County on Feb. 1, is the best way to protect the property, and ultimately to recover the entire tract of 1,301 acres, debt free, for the Convention.
“Restitution of the land to the MBC is our prayer for relief to Judge Callahan,” said Whitehead. “It is also the prayer of many Missouri Baptists to the Lord.”
Meanwhile, Windermere staff released a press release on Oct. 26, criticizing The Pathway report for being “inaccurate and unethical.” Windermere Chief Executive Officer Dan Bench complained that The Pathway should have contacted him directly. “I would have talked with them, and I will be happy to answer any questions from anyone at any time.”
Whitehead replied: “Mr. Bench knows that communication between litigants about a pending case is legally sensitive, and can only occur if his attorneys approve. We have asked Mr. Bench’s attorneys if they concur with his invitation, and we eagerly await their reply.”
The WBCC release complained that The Pathway headline and story confused people to believe that the foreclosure was against land owned by the conference center rather than the Jester land.
Whitehead disagreed. “The story was clear for any reasonably careful reader. Mr. Jester’s land was in foreclosure, not the confernce center’s remaining 350 acres. The fact that Mr. Jester reached a ‘forbearance agreement’ after The Pathway story ran did not make the original Pathway report inaccurate.”
Bench also complained that the story implied that Windermere conference center was having financial difficulties, and not just Jester’s company. Bench said Windermere had its “best year ever.”
“We sincerely hope that the Windermere corporation is operating in the black in 2007,” responded Whitehead. “We will find out when we take Mr. Bench’s deposition on Nov. 19. Meanwhile, we simply cannot use the phrase ‘best year ever’ for the loss of 5/6 of the total acreage that once belonged to MBC. When the MBC family recovers all the land, all 1,301 acres, debt free, that will be the ‘best year ever,’ and we pray that will be next year.”