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Date of Issue: June 10, 2009

Tampa company takes interest in Tidemark

A Tampa company is eyeing two Island commercial developments, both now in foreclosure with lenders.

The interested company is Mainsail Development Group LLC, which is based in Tampa and gained recognition in the tourism industry with the recent creation of Scrub Island Resort & Spa, a $100 million resort community on Scrub Island in the British Virgin Islands.

Mainsail’s president is Joe Collier, a native Floridian, who graduated from Florida State University with a bachelor’s degree in hotel management and marketing and spent 15 years with Marriott International in sales, marketing and development. He formed Mainsail in 1998.

Tidemark, 5325 Marina Drive, and the Beach Inn, 101 66th St., are owned by Reliance Tidemark and Beach Inn LLC.

Two of the Beach Inn buildings opened last year as the Tidemark Beach Resort and the project was being marketed as a fractional-ownership development, with two- and three-bedroom units. But the properties currently are being rented on a weekly basis to vacationers.

The Tidemark Marina Resort is a stalled development. Initiated eight years ago, the dream of developer Nick Easterling, the site now contains lots of concrete, rebar and a fence. The 62-slip marina is open, but no vertical construction has taken place.

Easterling filed for bankruptcy in 2004, three years after the city commission approved the plan for the controversial project.

Reliance Realty Partners became involved a year later and, by 2007, Easterling had exited the project.

On April 30, Mercantile Bank, a division of Carolina First Bank, filed papers in the circuit court system to begin foreclosure proceedings on three properties, naming as defendants Beach Inn Partners LLC, Reliance Tidemark LLC and, individually, Joseph R. Gaudio, Kenneth C. Dardis, Lawrence McNeill Jr. and Charles L. Starr III.

On May 8, Freedom Holdings began foreclosure proceedings, naming Reliance Tidemark, Starr, Gaudio, McNeill and Dardis as defendants.

In its complaint, Mercantile Bank demanded immediate payment from Beach Inn LLC of $9,378,941.14, including a $9.147 million principle on a loan and $215,809 in accrued interest. The complaint also demanded payment of $8.5 million from Reliance.

The Freedom Holdings complaint alleges that Starr, Gaudio, Dardis and McNeill personally guaranteed repayment of a $2.4 million loan from Freedom and, later, a $100,000.

Collier and other associates with Mainsail met with Holmes Beach public works superintendent Joe Duennes recently to discuss whether, if the Tidemark property is purchased, a new site plan process would be required.

Duennes said that depends on whether a new owner wants to change the use or plans.

“If you go with the same plans, in the same footprints,” he said, “there’s no reason why they can’t pick up and go.”

Court records placed Gaudio in Rowayton, Conn.; Dardis in Stamford, Conn.; McNeill in Lakeland and Starr on Longboat Key. None of them returned The Islander’s phone calls as of press time.