Among those Apex Realty owes: 60 prospective buyers
By Jim Weiker
The Columbus Dispatch
The company, which also developed the Dakota condominium building in the Short North and owns nightclubs and restaurants, cited assets between $1 million and $10 million and debts between $10 million and $50 million.
Apex listed as its largest debt $5.1 million to the Community Loan Fund, which loaned the company money to get started on the project, which was to have been the Short North's larges condominium project, with 135 condominiums in two 11-story towers on the corner of High Street and Hubbard Avenue.
The company also owes Berardi & Partners architectural firm $503,312, along with several other service providers. In addition, Apex owes about $1 million to an estimated 60 people who put down deposits for condominiums that were never built.
About 20 of those would-be buyers have sued the company and its principals, Raymond Brown, Michael Council and Rajesh Lahoti.
The partners unveiled Ibiza in 2006 as "the embodiment of an idealized city life." Among the planned amenities were a roof-deck pool, concierge service, attached parking and a fitness center.
Less than two years, later, they started taking deposits for the units, which sold for $159,999 to $1,549,999. Most buyers placed 5 percent down on their units.
But by the end of 2008, as the housing market further eroded, the project's largest proposed lender, Huntington Bank, lost interest in the project. Apex and its sister company, Arms Properties, continued to look for suitors but none came forth.
Last summer, Apex announced that it was working with investors to convert the project to apartments, but that plan also fell through, and last month, Columbus Schiff Capital Group took over control of the site.
Short North developer files for bankruptcy
By Jim Weiker
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
Apex Realty Enterprises built a string of Short North condominiums, but the company was undone by a project that never got off the ground.
Apex filed for bankruptcy this week, after failing to build its most ambitious project: the proposed 11-story Ibiza condominiums at N. High Street and Hubbard Avenue. The company listed assets of between $1 million and $10 million and debts of more than $10 million in its filings.
Creditors, including 60 people who put an estimated $1 million down on condominiums that were never built, will now take their case to bankruptcy court.
An attorney representing Ibiza investors also will continue to press his fraud case against the company, but now before a bankruptcy judge.
"The bankruptcy petition really only changes the forum in which we're going to pursue Apex and its partners and employees," said Brian Laliberte, who represents 17 clients who put down deposits on the project. "Our claims remain the same. We believe fraud occurred in the Ibiza development."
Apex and its sister company, ARMS Properties, unveiled Ibiza in 2006. It was the largest project tackled by Apex's four partners - Raymond Brown, Michael Council, Rajesh Lahoti and Wilbur Ischie - who also developed the Dakota and several smaller condominium projects.
Ibiza was to be a residential gem in the Short North: 135 condominiums in a gleaming tower with a roof-deck pool, concierge service, attached parking and a fitness center.
In early 2008, as the Columbus condominium market started its decline, the developer began taking 5percent deposits for the units, which sold for $159,999 to $1,549,999.
Laliberte's clients contend that Apex partners continued to accept deposits and present the condos as successful even though they knew the project had lost funding and would not proceed.
In an exhibit filed in one of his cases against Apex, Laliberte included a January 2010 email exchange between Council and Brown discussing how to respond to a client demanding his money back.
According to the filing, Brown wrote, "We should work on replies tomorrow."
Council responded: "Yes! We need a standard reply. We need to talk to (attorney) Tom Allen or someone as now we are going to start lying."
Laliberte said he thinks the principals of Apex and its related companies enriched themselves at the expense of condo investors.
Calls to Apex and ARMS offices went unanswered yesterday. Myron Terlecky, a Columbus lawyer who represents Apex in the bankruptcy filing, declined to comment.
After funding for the condominiums collapsed, Apex sought investors to convert the project into apartments. That effort failed as well, and last month, Columbus developer Schiff Capital Group took control of the site.
In addition to its condominium developments, Apex and its related entities have interests in several nearby properties including the Union Cafe, 782 N. High St.; Havana, 862 N. High; Axis Nightclub, 775 N. High; and commercial buildings in the 800 block of N. High.
Apex listed as its largest debt $5.1 million to the Community Loan Fund, a Columbus-based nonprofit group that helps fund projects in low-income areas. Other creditors include Berardi & Partners architectural firm ($503,312), Walker Parking Consultants ($97,591), the Simon Group Limited Partnership ($74,750) and Ruscilli Construction Co. ($40,000).