Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Sawgrass Village Store Owners Face Uncertainty; Center's Owner Has Some Options before Foreclosure; Redevelopment Not Popular

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Sawgrass Village Store Owners Face Uncertainty; Center's Owner Has Some Options before Foreclosure; Redevelopment Not Popular

Article excerpt

Byline: SHAKAYA ANDRES

PONTE VEDRA BEACH - Foreclosure proceedings have begun against Sawgrass Village, leaving store owners at the central shopping hub concerned about their status.

Opposition to redevelopment plans for the longtime shopping area in the heart of Ponte Vedra Beach probably helped lead to the first step in the foreclosure process, business leaders said.

Massachusetts Mutual Insurance Co. filed a notice of intent to seek foreclosure March 24 with the St. Johns County Clerk of Court against center owner Bailard Sawgrass LLC.

The notice of "lis pendens" comes a year after developers announced plans to invest $164 million for the redevelopment of the center.

"In this economy, this happens," said Ginger Peace, executive director of the Ponte Vedra Beaches Chamber of Commerce. "No one's immune; they will either restructure or somebody will buy it. It's not going to become a ghost town."

Meanwhile, the Hayman Co. of Troy, Mich., has taken over as the center's new property manager. Hayman representatives didn't return phone messages this week.

The notice, the first step in the foreclosure process, lets a defendant know a lawsuit is pending. Bailard could sell or refinance the property off Florida A1A, proceed with redevelopment efforts or take any number of other options.

Bailard filed a preliminary application in March 2009 proposing the redevelopment plan. The plan has been met with opposition by community leaders, including the board at the adjacent Sawgrass Players Club, whose approval is an early hurdle in the project's success. Developers had numerous community meetings in hopes of selling the public on the redevelopment plan. But some lashed out at the plans, saying there would be too many residences over the stores and that the redone center generally wouldn't coincide well with the center of Ponte Vedra Beach.

"Eventually, residents here are going to have to understand that something has to be done to the infrastructure to update and modernize it and make it more reflective of Ponte Vedra," Peace said.

Business owners at the center said they were surprised to hear the property was in pre-foreclosure, adding that something must be done to draw customers and save their businesses. …

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