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Date of Issue: March 17, 2005

Tidemark courts new dance partner

The troubled Tidemark condominium/hotel/marina development in Holmes Beach seems to change financial partners about as often as students at a Fred Astaire dance class.

The latest "savior" of the bankrupt company is Reliance Property Group, according to Tidemark managing general partner Nick Easterling.

Reliance replaces Southstar Development of Coral Gables, which had planned to inject the necessary $5 million in financing to get Tidemark out of bankruptcy court until Easterling abruptly dismissed the company just days before a scheduled Aug. 4 hearing in federal court.

"Basically, I fired Southstar because they wanted to rearrange the project," said Easterling. "I haven't spent the past 18 months not getting paid to see that happen."

But Reliance appears to be just another Tidemark "dance partner" in its efforts to waltz around reorganizing under federal bankruptcy laws. Tidemark Partners LLC filed for bankruptcy protection in federal court in Tampa on Jan. 21, 2004.

In April 2004, Southstar had replaced Cypress Lending Group of Vero Beach, Fla. - part of the EFO real estate group from Dallas - as the new "partner" when it loaned Tidemark $130,000 in interim financing and agreed to "due diligence" in an effort to provide financing for Tidemark.

Cypress Lending and EFO signed the Tidemark dance card after Easterling rejected an offer by first mortgage holder Brasota Mortgage, which bought up Regions Bank's $1.7 million mortgage to go with its $2.3 million mortgage. Easterling, however, rejected Brasota's plan because the company would only offer financing for the marina portion of the project, not the proposed 40-unit condominium and accompanying restaurant.

Regions Bank had filed for foreclosure on Tidemark on Dec. 23, 2003, after efforts between Tidemark and "partner" Parliament Group of Dallas on a deal stalled.

Parliament had joined up with Tidemark in September 2003 with a refinancing agreement, prompting Easterling to announce construction might begin in January 2004.

Brasota attorney Peter Mackey said the company has signed an agreement giving Tidemark 10 days to pay off the estimated $5 million debt after the bankruptcy court approves any reorganization plan with a new Tidemark partner, or until Oct. 20, 2004. Otherwise, Brasota can proceed with foreclosure in circuit court and sell the property to new investors to recover its money.

The next court hearing on Tidemark's latest reorganization plan - this one with Reliance as the new partner- is scheduled to debut Sept. 1.