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Condos going once …

After two months in bankruptcy court and several more of uncertainty, The Park condos' fate will be decided next week.

Court officials will sell the stalled luxury tower to the highest bidder Tuesday after an auction at the federal courthouse uptown, according to court documents filed recently.

Summitt Shores, which registered the top bid after a foreclosure auction in August, remains the high bidder, though others will have a chance to step forward Tuesday, court officials and documents say.

The 21-story Park condos at Caldwell and Third streets went into foreclosure this summer. Its developer, 222 South Caldwell Street Ltd. Partnership, part of Verna & Associates of Charlotte, owed more than $28 million on its $30.7 million loan.

After an auction and bidding period at that time, Summitt Shores offered $18.8 million. But shortly after, three contractors filed an involuntary bankruptcy petition, forcing the condo tower into court and temporarily halting the foreclosure proceedings.

Creditors and condo owners wanted to see the project sold at a higher price, but as the case languished in court, concerns arose about the building falling into disrepair. At a hearing in August, attorneys complained that its steel had started to rust and weather had damaged fireproofing materials on the walls – not to mention the building materials left inside made the project vulnerable to vandalism.

Court-appointed trustee Langdon Cooper, a Gastonia attorney, filed a motion last month to sell the project, partly to get things moving again before winter weather could damage the condo tower further, according to his motion.

Summitt Shores' offer has been upped to $19 million to include the trustee's fee and other costs. To upset the bid, a person or company must offer $20 million or more and put down a cash deposit of $1 million, court documents say.

If there is more than one bid, Cooper will decide which to accept, and the court must then approve the sale. The high bidder must close on the property by Wednesday, according to court filings.

Little is known about Summitt Shores. Its owner is Leonard Ray Watts, according to a news release on The Park's Web site. Watts was listed with the N.C. Secretary of State's office as the registered agent of several companies. One of them, Apex Homes Inc. of Cornelius, has a history of rescuing troubled developments, according to news articles about the business.

Summitt Shores' attorney, Carey “Al” Sellers of Charlotte, has declined to comment about the company's plans for The Park.

Condo contract holders, who have invested thousands in deposits and upgrades, have said they hope a developer buys the tower and finishes it; others have said it's possible a new developer could convert it into an office building.

The Park's fate has been uncertain since construction stopped in January, with the building about 70 percent complete.

The project is one of several uptown condos to face problems this year, despite showing strong sales. 210 Trade, the condo tower going up at the EpiCentre, has been stalled since February in a legal dispute between its developer and the EpiCentre's. Two other projects, One Charlotte and 300 South Tryon, have been postponed this year.

The Park's sale hearing will be 2:30 p.m. Tuesday in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of North Carolina, 401 W. Trade St.

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