Developer known for '80s projects found dead

Steve Walsh, a major Charlotte developer in the 1980s who donated the land for Calvary Church and later went bankrupt, was found dead at his Florida home on Wednesday. He was 61.

His body was found inside his lakefront house in Winter Park, Fla., around 1 p.m., according to authorities.

Winter Park Police would not say how Walsh died. They asked crime scene technicians to analyze Walsh's $1.4-million home in the city just north of Orlando, said Sgt. Pam Marcum, a police spokeswoman.

Detectives will be at Walsh's house again today, and the department will use its investigation and an autopsy to determine if foul play was involved.

In Charlotte in the 1980s, Walsh was Charlotte's biggest apartment builder who helped shape development in south Mecklenburg. Among his holdings was a tract that would become part of the TPC Piper Glen golf course, in addition to 100 acres off N.C. 51 that are now home to Calvary Church.

Walsh was also a philanthropist who gave advice to then-Mayor Sue Myrick and raised money for Republican Sen. Jesse Helms. His name was floated as a possible U.S. Senate candidate.

But in 1989, his Walsh Corp. filed for bankruptcy, a year before he filed for personal bankruptcy with debts totaling $25 million. In the aftermath, rights to his 10 center-court Charlotte Hornets season tickets were sold at auction for $97,500.

Walsh blamed his misfortunes on a bad investment in 1986 and sued Bankers Trust New York in Arizona, eventually settling for an undisclosed sum.

After Charlotte, he moved to Charleston and got back into the apartment building business.

He moved to Florida in 1998. The Orlando Sentinel described him as a well-known developer there whose projects included a $250 million hotel and condo project in downtown Orlando that has faced delays and criticism.