November 25, 2004 in City

Summit sells for $12.8 million

By The Spokesman-Review
 
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Marshall Chesrown, the top-dollar developer building the Black Rock community on Lake Coeur d’Alene, has a new venture – this time paying $12.8 million for 77 acres of prime land near downtown Spokane called the Summit property.

He outbid a California development company Wednesday during a bankruptcy court auction held to get the best deal for creditors of Metropolitan Mortgage & Securities.

“I just got drift of this last week that this was in the works,” he said after the auction. “To find 77 acres of land on the water in the core of a city – it just doesn’t happen.”

Chesrown, who is known for classy developments in North Idaho, envisions building higher-end housing and retail on the site. He won’t rule out a big-box retail store such as Wal-Mart, but said that’s not his style.

“Personally, that’s not what I’m about,” he said.

Chesrown’s offer capped a confusing auction. His bid wasn’t the highest: that belonged to Seawest Investment Associates, which bid $13.6 million for the slender parcel on the north bank of the Spokane River east of Monroe Street.

There was a catch in Seawest’s bid, however. The company did not have plunk-down earnest money and could have abandoned its bid without consequence after Dec. 7.

Chesrown’s offer, although $800,000 less, included $500,000 in earnest money.

Bankrupcty Judge Patricia Williams ultimately agreed that Chesrown’s offer was too good – and solid – to pass up after three hours of legal back-and-forth between lawyers.

Chesrown plans to begin work immediately. His money will help Metropolitan’s ongoing efforts to sell property, pay bills and return money to creditors.

Metropolitan bankruptcy attorney Ford Elsaesser determined the auction raised enough money to satisfy the note due on property plus earn a $500,000 profit on the deal.

“It was the best deal for the creditors and we can go to bed tonight knowing that we have $500,000 for them no matter what happens,” Elsaesser said after the hearing.

He implored the judge to accept the deal, which he described as a sure thing compared to the Seawest deal.

Chesrown attorney Kathryn McKinley told the judge the competing bids were beginning to “feel like we’re bidding real money versus Monopoly money.”

Elsaesser said he began to doubt whether Seawest even had the money and worried the firm was trying to gain a free option on the land.

Chesrown is fast becoming one of the region’s most visible developers, with projects going on in Coeur d’Alene, Liberty Lake and now, it appears, Spokane.

A Spokane native who made millions when he sold his Colorado auto dealerships to AutoNation, Chesrown first turned his attention to developing the exclusive Club at Black Rock, a 650-acre gated community and golf course on Lake Coeur d’Alene. Since then, he acquired the Cedars Floating Restaurant on Lake Coeur d’Alene, and acreage along the Spokane River where he plans to build waterfront condos.

That property is part of Coeur d’Alene’s Riverfront development, an old mill site on Northwest Boulevard that is being transformed into a live-work-play community of offices, retail shops and housing.

In 2002, he bought property in Liberty Lake and with partners is developing a housing project there.

He considers the Summit property a unique opportunity.

“Vibrant cities need residential housing in the downtown area,” he said. “I don’t think there’s enough of this kind of housing in Spokane … and we believe this means we have pent-up demand.”

He likes the master plan community ideas that have been floated for the property.

“I plan to make it the focal project in Spokane,” he said. “We can do it.”


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