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Date of Issue: December 14, 2006

GSR auction sale deadline Dec. 15

GSR pic
Cheap Island luxury
This canal-front model home at GSR’s Villa Rosa subdivision in Anna Maria is up for auction with a minimum bid price of $1.5 million. Islander Photo: Rick Catlin

Investors, real estate developers and anyone looking for a slice of the good life found on Anna Maria Island have their chance this week to buy into the Island dream - at a bargain price.

Financially troubled GSR Development LLC is auctioning off its model home at its Villa Rosa housing project on South Bay Boulevard in Anna Maria as a means of raising cash to pay off - hopefully - at least the first mortgage on the property.

Attorney Richard Prosser, representing GSR in bankruptcy court, has set a minimum bid price on the three-story luxury home at $1.5 million - in cash.

But don't expect mortgage holder Fifth Third Bank to take that bid. The bank's lien against the property is for $1.8 million, and it's not likely the bank will take a $300,000 loss on a property that could well be worth at least $2.5 million.

In fact, it's a wonder the property is even being auctioned, considering that Theo Ratliff of the Boston Celtics has a contract to purchase the house and lot for $2.5 million.

That's if and when the house is completed and ready for occupancy.

Contractors involved with the model home construction say the house needs about $800,000 more in improvements and construction to get a certificate of occupancy from the Anna Maria building department.

Ratliff, who has a $175,000 deposit with GSR for the completed house, has filed a claim in the Manatee County Circuit Court that he has an interest in the property, but his attorney, John Perry of Orlando, has not filed a claim with the bankruptcy court that Ratliff is a creditor, or contested the auction sale with that same court.

Efforts to reach Perry for comment were unsuccessful.

The deadline for bid submission is 4 p.m. Friday, Dec. 15. All bids must be accompanied by a "good faith" deposit of 5 percent and delivered to Prosser's office at 110 E. Madison St., No. 200, in Tampa, by the deadline.

But if all this sounds too good to be true - a $2.5 million luxury Island home at a bargain basement price - let the buyer beware.

Prosser is advertising the property the house sits on - Lot 14 of the Villa Rosa subdivision - "as is, where is" and "shown on a proposed plat" that is "not yet recorded."

The city has been waiting for more than two years for GSR to deliver a final plat of the 17 lots at Villa Rosa to approve so that the plat can be recorded with the Manatee County Clerk of the Circuit Court.

The notice of auction sale also claims the property would be delivered to the successful bidder "free and clear of all liens, claims and encumbrances."

Fifth Third Bank retains credit bidding rights to the property and can reject any and all bids that don't meet its requirements.

Still, a winning bid of $1.8 million to satisfy the bank is possible.

"It would be a good buy if you could get it at that price, or maybe even a little higher," said one local real estate agent who asked not to be identified. "It could be a great bargain.

"What I don't understand is why they didn't just complete the model home and sell it to Ratliff, unless they ran out of money to finish the job," the agent said.