Bankruptcy case could bring big changes to Phoenix’s Desert Ridge area

By Mike Sunnucks JUN 22, 2017 | BizJournals.com

The Chapter 11 bankruptcy case involving a real estate entity called Epicenter Partners LLC has been complicated and contentious.

Resolving it could go a long way toward determining who controls future development in the busy Desert Ridge area of north Phoenix.

The area at Tatum Boulevard and Loop 101 includes Desert Ridge Marketplace and the High Street development.

Those projects don’t have anything to do with bankruptcy filed by Epicenter and another entity called Gray Meyer Fannin LLC. Those are arms of developer Bruce Gray and Gray / Western Development Co., according to Arizona Corporation Commission filings.

Part of the bankruptcy case deals with Epicenter’s continued control and land lease of 96.5 acres of State Trust Land in the Desert Ridge area.

The U.S. Bankruptcy Court will hold another hearing on the matter Thursday.

Dean Waldt, an attorney for the Arizona State Land Department, declined to comment on the case. State Land Department officials didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Court records show the Epicenter bankruptcy case has progressed as the State Land Department increasingly has questioned Gray/Epicenter’s ability to meet land-lease obligations and perform master development rights in the Desert Ridge area.

Master development rights give the holder of those parcels control of growth and projects in one of Phoenix’s busiest retail and commercial areas.

Gray entities won control of those 96 acres and more land as well master developer rights in Desert Ridge after prevailing in a lawsuit against the original Chicago developer of the City North project, which is now High Street and owned by a different group.

The Land Department, according to court records, prefers a group named CPF Vaseo Associates LLC take over the Desert Ridge land now controlled by Epicenter/Gray.

CPF Vaseo and Epicenter also are battling in court regarding their own real estate deals and in turn master development rights in the Desert Ridge area.

Epicenter attorney Michael McGrath said another $4.8 million payment to the Arizona State Land Department is due in July and his client is ready to make that payment.

“We have secured financing to make the payment in July,” McGrath said.

McGrath said there are 74 years left in the lease deal, and the Gray entities are looking to develop 116 acres.

An attorney for CPF Vaseo would not comment for this story.

See article HERE

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