Weddell buys Palm City project in Henderson

A Carson City businessman is investing over $30 million in a Henderson home and golf course development, pulling it out of foreclosure proceedings.

Ron Weddell's Commerce Associates has purchased the 512-acre Palm City project from developer James Rhodes.

And people who invested in the Interstate Mortgage Group will get $26.5 million of the purchase price to pay off the mortgage company's three loans on the project, according to Weddell.

"I think I got a fair deal," Weddell said Saturday. "And there's 141 investors who are getting their principle back."

Weddell owns R.P. Weddell & Sons, a construction company with offices in Carson City and Las Vegas. The company installs underground utilities.

Interstate Mortgage had loaned $24.5 million to Rhodes for the project, money that came from the private investors. Interstate was seized by state officials in November 1999 as insolvent, but owner David Ferradino was able to start foreclosure procedures against Rhodes on the Palm City loans.

Foreclosure sales on some Palm City parcels were scheduled Feb. 3 and 7, but Weddell's offer to creditors brought postponements of the sales. Weddell has put about $15 million in escrow and will provide another $12 million this week to pay off the mortgages, he said.

Palm City was designed to have 2,377 single- and multi-family homes and a Ted Robinson-designed 18-hole golf course. The project is inside Henderson, about a 15-minute drive from downtown Vegas, he said.

Weddell said his company will prepare the lots of the master-planned project so they are ready for homes, then sell them to Vegas-area home builders. The work includes installing sewers, water and other utility lines and streets, he said.

"This is a natural for us. We've been doing about $30 million in underground utility installation in Southern Nevada every year. Now we'll be working on our own property instead of someone else's," Weddell said.

"I'm in and out of the offices of almost every builder down there every week, so they already know us. I'm already getting calls from builders wanting those lots."

He said the lots would probably be sold out within six months. The prices will range from about $50,000 for standard lots to $75,000 and up for lots on the golf course, he said.

Nevada has been the fastest growing state for over two decades, primarily because of Vegas-area growth that has spilled out to surrounding communities. Henderson became Nevada's second largest city, replacing Reno, just months ago. Weddell said about 20,000 homes a year are being built in Southern Nevada.

The previous owner has another project called Rhodes Ranch that he has done well with, but he ended up with too much land and ran short of capital for the Palm City project, Weddell said.

Weddell said Ferradino was instrumental in getting all the investors in Palm City's loans to agree to the buy-out. He said that he did not think that could have happened under the direction of a state conservator and that he was going to testify in support of Ferradino at a court hearing about Interstate Mortgage Group on Monday.

He said the mortgage company had about $140 million worth of loans on projects that went delinquent about the same time. Weddell is considering purchasing another one of those projects for development as well.

Weddell's company has developed residential projects in Carson City and Fallon, but the Palm City project will be its largest development, he said.


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