SPRINGFIELD – Windermere Development Company, LLC, (WDC) filed a petition in federal bankruptcy court on Jan. 14, just two hours before a foreclosure sale was set to occur on the Camden County courthouse steps, initiated by lender Consolidated Mortgage, and involving 943 acres formerly owned by Windermere Baptist Conference Center. Bankruptcy law provides that one effect of filing the petition is an automatic stay of any foreclosure proceedings. As a result, the foreclosure sale for that date was canceled.
WDC is a limited liability company formed by William R. Jester of Springfield, to hold title to the former Windermere acreage, which Jester’s company purchased from National City Bank in February 2006. The “sole member” of WDC is Jester Capital Management, LLC, which, in turn, is owned by Jester. Jester signed the petition in bankruptcy on behalf of Jester Capital Management, LLC.
National City Bank’s (NCB) $21 million mortgage on all 1,300 acres of Windermere was in default when NCB agreed to take a deed in lieu of foreclosure for 943 acres in November 2005. NCB then sold the land to Jester’s company in February 2006. Jester’s companies acquired financing through Consolidated Mortgage and NCB, for a purchase price of $5.5 million.
In December 2009, Consolidated Mortgage declared that WDC was in default on making payments on the mortgage and started publication of legal notice of a foreclosure sale to occur on Jan. 14, 2010, at 4 p.m.
According to court records, at 2:22 p.m., Jester attorneys in Kansas City filed a petition in the federal bankruptcy court. Consolidated Mortgage was given notice and they canceled the foreclosure sale.
The petition was assigned to Judge Federman in the Southern division. WDC is represented by Victor Weber at Merrick Baker & Strauss in Kansas City. The trustee in bankruptcy is Thomas J. O’Neal at Polisnelli Shughart in Springfield.
A “first meeting of creditors’” under Section 341 of the Bankruptcy Code is set for Feb. 19 at 8:30 a.m. at the Federal Courthouse in Springfield. The petition lists five creditors: Allstate Consultants in Columbia; Camden County Collector of Revenue; CM Capital Services; Consolidated Mortgage, and National City Bank.
The court immediately entered a notice to show cause why the petition should not be dismissed for failure to include any of the required schedules including the Compensation Disclosure, Statement of Financial Affairs, etc. A response to this “show cause order” is due by Jan. 29.
Missouri Baptist Convention Attorney Michael Whitehead said it is not yet clear what the impact of the bankruptcy filing will be on the Jester Counterclaim against the convention, and other proceedings in the Camden County case. Whitehead said that Consolidated Mortgage has the right under the Code to file a motion for relief from the automatic stay, whereby it would ask the Bankruptcy Court to permit the foreclosure action to proceed. As of press time, no such motion has been filed.