Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

LandMar Puts a Wrap on Durango; Dec. 28 Closing Will Clear Way to Begin Repayment of Creditors

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

LandMar Puts a Wrap on Durango; Dec. 28 Closing Will Clear Way to Begin Repayment of Creditors

Article excerpt

Byline: GORDON JACKSON

ST. MARYS - More than a year after LandMar Group successfully bid on the former site of Durango-Georgia Paper Co., the Jacksonville-based company is preparing to close on the agreement to purchase the 750-acre tract in St. Marys.

"Everything's moving forward and we are preparing for the closing and preparing for the cleanup," said Ed Blakely, regional manager for LandMar.

The only remaining obstacle is final approval of LandMar's cleanup plan by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, said Ward Stone, the attorney representing the bankruptcy court trustee overseeing the sale of the mill site.

"We expect them [EPD] to approve," he said. "That's the only outstanding issue."

Charlie Smith, a St. Marys attorney representing LandMar, said the developer is scheduled to close on the $40 million purchase on Friday, Dec. 28.

Closing on the purchase paves the way for nearly full repayment to creditors, beginning with an initial payment to former employees sometime during the next three months, Smith said.

"This will be good news for a lot of folks," he said.

It will take as long as seven years for those owed money to receive at least partial repayment of what is owed to them, Stone said.

Former workers will get up to $4,200 initially, Stone said. Those owed more than $4,200 could get more than 80 cents on the dollar for the remaining money they are owed, Stone said.

"We're not going to take a long time," he said. "It's very good news."

The largest number of creditors - vendors who sold wood, chemicals, auto parts and other materials - will be the last group to be paid, Smith said.

The agreement will allow LandMar to move forward with plans to develop the mill site, which was Camden County's largest employer for about 60 years until management announced it would close in November 2002, costing more than 900 workers their jobs. …

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