Lawyer: Park condos' steel rusting

As The Park's financial problems are sorted out in court, the stalled condo tower could be falling into disrepair, its lender's attorneys said Wednesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

The 21-story tower at Caldwell and Third streets uptown is about 70 percent complete, but it's still open to the wind and rain and susceptible to vandalism, said Judy Thompson of Poyner & Spruill, representing BB Syndication Services.

Its steel has started to rust, and fireproofing materials on the walls have been damaged by the weather, she said. Other building materials left inside, such as stucco, glass windows and interior doors, are in danger, too.

A city fire inspector has expressed concern about wood and building debris, a fire hazard, and city officials have decided to terminate the developer's right to use part of Caldwell Street for scaffolding, raising the question of who will remove it.

The court on Wednesday appointed Langdon Cooper, a Gastonia attorney, the property's interim trustee, meaning he will have control over those issues and others until the bankruptcy case is resolved.

The Park went into foreclosure last month. As of Aug. 20, developer 222 South Caldwell Street Ltd. Partnership, part of Verna & Associates of Charlotte, owed BB Syndication Services more than $28 million, Thompson said.

After a foreclosure auction and bidding period this month, a company called Summitt Shores had registered the highest bid, $18.8 million.

But on Aug. 14, three contractors filed an involuntary bankruptcy petition, forcing The Park into court and temporarily halting the foreclosure process.

Those creditors, who say they're owed more than $1.8 million, support Cooper's appointment, their attorney said Wednesday.

“There needs to be someone at the head of this ship,” said Kevin Sink of Nicholls & Crampton in Raleigh. “ … This gives them the opportunity to maximize (the project's) value.”