Most of the construction crews were laid off at the beginning of 2009. The grocery store that was scheduled to open this year has pulled out, along with Vancouver developer Robert Quigg. A dozen or so lawsuits are pending against Barrie and the resort.
Some highlights from Shoalts' column:
Nobody saw that coming, eh? Well, greed does strange things to people. Cue the world's smallest violin orchestra, playing a sad waltz.
Barrie ... is fighting to save that gamble – a massive development near Victoria called Bear Mountain.
Like many real estate developers, Barrie and his 17 investors – who include current and former NHL players such as Mike Vernon, Gary Roberts, Joe Nieuwendyk, Ray Whitney, Rob Blake, Ryan Smyth, Sean Burke, Rob Niedermayer, Scott Mellanby, Matt Pettinger and Trevor Kidd – were whipsawed by falling prices and the drying up of bank credit.
Some of those investors are angry and some are not, but they all have two things in common: They are not talking about it and all fervently hope Barrie can pull a rabbit out of his hat.
As opposed to blowing sunshine up their butts? These poor suckers must be praying for an obscenely-wealthy rabbit with impaired judgement.
He needs to work out a new financing deal on the 500-hectare development that includes two golf courses, a resort, hotel and as many as 5,000 condominiums, townhouses and residential lots.
And an interchange! Don't forget that. How many resorts come with their very own half-built highway project?
No doubt some were concerned when Vernon, who is one of the largest investors, sold his custom-built Calgary house this week for a city-record $10.3-million. Vernon would not comment on the sale, but one of his friends said it had nothing to do with any problems with Bear Mountain.Maybe it's a problem with the location. Was the house built on a native burial ground, by any chance?
The B.C. project was going well until last October, when the worst of the recession hit. Suddenly, housing sales dried up and the value of the project dropped. Even worse, Barrie's bankers got nervous about the big loans that came up for renewal this year.
Uh oh. Did someone say "default?"
Barrie did announce recently that he closed a deal worth $350-million with Siraj Capital Ltd., an investment company based in Dubai. ... Under this arrangement, Siraj Capital gets control of the residential side of the Bear Mountain project for what amounts to a $350-million loan with stiff terms.
Does that mean they'll own the rest of the native cultural sites on the mountain? Will they get to blow those up like Barrie did with the cave? We know they don't get the mineral rights with the deal.
But even this depends on Siraj being able to raise the $350-million by selling units in a weak market. If the units cannot be sold by the first week of October, the deal will likely die.
In the past year, they've tried flogging condos in Spain, United States, Canada, and BC, with little success. The sales office in Victoria, 20 km from Bear Mountain, went tits-up way back in 2007.
Jeez, STFU and don't queer the deal!
The reason all of the Bear Mountain investors are keeping quiet, even the unhappy ones, is that none of them want any negative vibrations to kill the Siraj Capital deal. They see it as the only hope of getting their money back, let alone making a profit.
Hah! It must be a pleasure doing business with such a gentleman.
If successful, it may also go a long way to soothing Barrie's major lender, HSBC. Apparently the bank wants to be repaid a lot quicker than Barrie thinks is manageable (say two years versus five or more) and it wants higher fees than Barrie is willing to pay.