Insists he has strong track record despite court orders
The developer behind the ambitious $360 million Ironwood golf resort project has had five court proceedings filed against him in the United States for failure to pay back loans.
David Moffitt and his companies were named as co-defendants in writs filed with courts in Florida, as well as one in Grand Cayman.
The developer has insisted that all five U.S. cases are connected to a single project – a 300-acre industrial development park that failed to get off the ground following the world financial crisis.
A spokesman told the Cayman Compass that project was the only blemish on a strong track record established over two decades and would not impact Mr. Moffitt’s ability to deliver the golf resort project or the associated $40-million highway extension Ironwood plans to complete in a public-private partnership with government.
Premier Alden McLaughlin declined to say whether his government was aware of the writs filed against Mr. Moffitt, but insisted “risk assessment” would be an integral part of the business case study that would take place prior to signing any final agreement with the developer.
Rulings against Mr. Moffitt include foreclosure judgments on property used as collateral for loans. The most recent ruling, in October 2013, was a “deficiency judgment” for US$168,000 issued by the circuit court of Sumter County, Florida.
The most up-to-date documents, available to the public through a Florida court records website, show total debts of just over $600,000 at the time of the court filings, which range from January 2012 to October 2013.
There are also two notices of pending lawsuits related to foreclosure on property mortgages for unspecified amounts over the same time period.
Mr. Moffitt was also served with a writ in the Grand Court of the Cayman Islands in October 2012, seeking foreclosure on properties, for $2.6 million, used as security for a loan to Turtle Cove Ltd. – a condominium development he was involved with, though he says this was settled and the project was completed.
A spokesman for the developer said the “vast majority” of the debts have been settled and insisted these were the only judgments against Mr. Moffitt in a long career that has included building schools, retail centers and city hall offices in Florida.
Successful projects that Mr. Moffitt has been involved with, according to the spokesman, include the Sumter County Sheriff’s complex, Palm Beach County solid waste facility and Bushnell City Hall office complex, all in Florida.
He said, “The judgments referred to are the only judgments in over 20 years of development and are all related to one project that did not get off the ground due to the world financial crisis of 2008. The exception is Turtle Cove, however, Scotiabank can verify that they were paid out in full and the corresponding phase of the project was completed.
“One project related to the timing of the world financial crisis should not be taken out of context. Over the past 20 years, Mr. Moffitt has worked successfully on developments in Cayman and the U.S., including hospital and local government projects in Florida, with a value in excess of $80 million.”
Asked if he could name the financiers behind the Ironwood project and if he could guarantee Mr. Moffitt and his backers had the capacity to do the project, the spokesman said, “There is calculated risk with any project. The integrity of the personnel involved is a key ingredient that development partners depend upon,and Mr. Moffitt feels that he has assembled the right partners. The financing of the Ironwood project has been subject to intense scrutiny from both the Cayman and the U.K. governments.
“The Cayman Islands government can attest to the fact that the required financing commitments are in place to complete this project, without which the U.K. government would not sign off on the project and its financing,” he added. Premier McLaughlin said his government would undertake a business case study over the proposed 10-mile extension of the East-West Arterial highway.
“Risk assessment is an integral part of that study,” he said. “Also, as previously announced, it is not proposed that government guarantee the financing of the proposed extension or any elements of the overall project; nor it is proposed that government grant any concessions with respect to the overall project.” “What is conceived is that assuming the road is built, government will repay the costs incurred by Ironwood in building the road by directing the stamp duty and import duties collected with respect to the overall development of Ironwood to the developers.”