Prominent Lakeland-Based Developer Files for Bankruptcy

Century Realty Funds seeks Chapter 11 protection for affiliated companies.


Article Courtesy of The Ledger

By Kyle Kennedy

Published August 8, 2010

LAKELAND | A prominent Lakeland-based development firm has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for its affiliated companies, saying a bad economy and inflexible banks are to blame.

Officials with Century Realty Funds filed the documents in Tampa earlier this week, seeking protection for the firm's Odyssey Properties affiliate and associated commercial real estate ventures. The affiliated companies owe investors and creditors more than $30 million, according to the documents. But company officials say the bankruptcy filings stem from more than $61 million in outstanding loans on commercial projects with BB&T and Wells Fargo banks.

"Both of those banks have refused to extend mortgages," said Ron Clark of Lakeland, lawyer for Century Realty, which is headed by businessman Larry Maxwell. "These are all keeper properties. They have value, they're cash-flowing, and they're properties we think will be good values into the future, but unfortunately these two lenders have refused to work with us."

Bob Madden, chief executive of Century affiliate Odyssey Diversified Properties, said occupancy and rental rates of commercial properties have been "significantly affected" by the recession. And ongoing trouble in credit markets has made it difficult to work out loan extensions with lenders, Madden said.

"The vast majority of our banks have been extremely cooperative and have renewed, restructured or extended our loans," Madden said in a prepared statement. But with BB&T and Wells Fargo refusing to negotiate, 

Larry Maxwell


Odyssey wants to use Chapter 11 protection to reorganize and save its commercial properties from foreclosure, Madden said.

BB&T officials could not be reached for comment and a Wells Fargo spokesman said the bank does not discuss legal issues about specific clients.

The properties listed in the bankruptcy filings include the Alexander Crossings retail and office complex in Plant City, the St. Charles Plaza shopping center in Haines City, and the Golfview Self Storage facility in Lake Wales. The documents also list a number of residential and retail developments in Central Florida and Georgia.

"These properties are probably less than 5 percent of (Century's) overall portfolio," Clark said. "We think we're going to be able to take these through bankruptcy and hopefully exit within a year."