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Mira Villa condo buyers will get to seek return of deposits

Buyers at Mira Villa condos have an opportunity to request a return of their deposits on the bankrupt project in the master-planned Summerlin community, an attorney in the case said.

Judge Bruce Markell is scheduled to hear several motions in the Mira Villa case, including one by the bankruptcy trustee to approve $38 million in postbankruptcy financing, on Nov. 25.

The court held a hearing in October regarding stipulations to cancel purchase agreements at the luxury condo project that halted construction earlier this year.

The court ordered that before each stipulation is approved, the trustee must notify all creditors and they will have 20 days to object, said Layke Stolberg, an attorney for Marquis & Aurbach who represents a committee of unsecured creditors.

“That’s not a bad thing. If no one objects, the stipulation is approved,” Stolberg said. “It gives some finality to purchasers. We at least have some options for purchasers.”

Those who cancel are entitled to get their earnest deposit back from the escrow company, but money spent for upgrades is gone, Stolberg said.

About 50 buyers have requested cancellation and they should receive their stipulations in the next few weeks, she said.

The good news was that trustee’s counsel will be filing several motions requesting approval of financing to continue construction of the condos and for procedures to sell the units, Stolberg said.

The trustee has employed Isaac Building and Design as the general contractor, and a real estate company to handle sales.

Las Vegas-based Westmark Homes, doing business as HDB LLC, filed for bankruptcy protection on the 134-unit Mira Villa project in February.

Meanwhile, construction has stopped on the 113-unit Mercer condo project at Tropicana Avenue and Grand Canyon Drive, west of the Las Vegas Beltway.

A representative at the Mercer’s sales office said the project has been suspended until January when the developer will decide whether to continue building the units for sale or as rentals.

The Mercer is a joint venture between Chicago-based JDL Development and Modern Living Holdings of Las Vegas. Vanguard Construction is general contractor. The site has partial wood framing going up on a concrete podium.

More than 60 percent of the condos were reportedly sold and occupancy was scheduled for summer 2008. They were priced from $275,000 to more than $700,000.

JDL President Jim Letchinger said the $50 million project was fully financed by First American Bank in Chicago. He told the Review-Journal in August he was “proceeding cautiously” with construction and occupancy had been pushed back to mid-2009.

A third condo project, Vantage Lofts in Henderson, halted construction in March and filed for bankruptcy in June. Slade Development is seeking court approval for $15 million in financing to complete the 40-unit first phase.

Construction has been completed on the 63-unit Onyx condo project at Reno Avenue and Duke Ellington Way, formerly the Tropicana Inn, but creditors forced the project into involuntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy in September.

Contact reporter Hubble Smith at hsmith@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0491.

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