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Date of Issue: October 19, 2006

Tidemark moves forward, Easterling out of management

The man who guided the Tidemark hotel/marina/condominium site plan through the Holmes Beach City Commission in 2001 - and a subsequent company bankruptcy - is no longer involved in the daily management of the project, the new owners have said.

While Nick Easterling continues to be part of the new ownership - Tidemark Reliance LLC - Lance McNeill of Tidemark Reliance said Easterling is not involved in construction management.

"He's still an interested party," said McNeill, "but no longer in management."

Easterling said, however, that he will co-manage operations of the complex under the contract he has with Reliance Tidemark.

At the same time, McNeill said work on the 5-year-old project has been steadily going forward. The foundations for the buildings are in and bids on the "vertical construction" have been received and construction on that portion should begin in the near future.

Construction crews are now finishing up the underground sewer and water connections along with the electrical hookups. That took a bit longer than anticipated, McNeill indicated, but that phase of the project "should be finished in about three to four weeks," he said, adding that construction of the marina and docks won't begin until the vertical construction phase is complete.

McNeill is also getting the documents for the condominium association ready for state of Florida approval. He anticipated that approval should be received within a few weeks. Once the state signs off on the documents, Tidemark can begin marketing the planned 40 units.

"We'll then begin offering them for sale," he said.

Potential buyers who had "reservations" on a unit before Tidemark went into bankruptcy will be given first opportunity for a condominium.

McNeill said he did not have a firm price range for the units, which will include one-bedroom, two-bedroom and at least one luxury unit.

"We'll be announcing the price range in the near future," he said. "Obviously, the market is not what it used to be."

He downplayed any perceived delays in completion of the project after Tidemark was reorganized following bankruptcy.

"This is being done step by step. We're going forward steadily. We're very close to having everything organized," he predicted confidently.

The Holmes Beach City Commission approved the Tidemark site plan in August 2001 - a plan organized and headed by Easterling.

Following financial difficulties in getting the project off the ground, Easterling placed Tidemark into voluntary bankruptcy in January 2004.

Tidemark came out of federal bankruptcy court in August 2005 as a new company - Tidemark Reliance LLC - along with a financial savior in Ken Dardis and Reliance Property Group of Connecticut, and a new plan that originally called for construction on the marina phase of Tidemark to begin by January 2006.

That didn't happen, but Easterling was all smiles with much of the project's debt dismissed as the reorganized and refinanced company emerged from bankruptcy court as a viable operation.

Construction of a new seawall began shortly thereafter and Easterling at that time confidently predicted the marina phase of construction would begin soon.

In December 2005, Easterling said he expected to open the marina and resort about 12 to 18 months after construction began.

Prices for the 40 units of Tidemark would range from about $500,000 to just over $1 million, Easterling said then.

The marina phase will add 65 boat slips including public spaces and an accommodation for police boats and emergency services.

The new marina, for many years referred to as the "city basin," is needed to provide dock space for the large number of visitors by boat the city receives daily, weekly and annually. Tidemark leased the city's boat basin for about $10,000 a year, but has promised to provide some slips to the public.