Lubert-Adler shuts down BriarRose, a ”country estate” private community near Lake Oconee in Georgia.
Palm Coast, FL – September 18, 2012 – Philadelphia-based real estate investment firm Lubert-Adler has shut down BriarRose, an asset in which they once partnered with Palm Coast developer Bobby Ginn. As a team, Ginn-LA was once touted as the company that was moving the most dirt in the Western Hemisphere. The joint venture set a succession of one-day real estate sales volume records in Florida as they launched several private luxury communities featuring signature golf courses with lavish clubhouses and resort style amenities.
The bursting housing bubble hit the GINNdom hard. Built on the premise of an ever rising real estate market, sales in the Ginn communities ground to a halt. Defaulting on a $675 million loan from Credit Suisse resulted in the forced sale of Laurelmor in N.C., the bankruptcy sale of Tesoro and Quail West in Southern Florida, and the loss to Credit Suisse of key property components of Ginn sur Mer on Grand Bahama.
In the unwinding process, Lubert-Adler also cut ties with Bobby Ginn. Along the way, they replaced Ginn with other development partners in Battle Mountain (Colorado) and Cobblestone Park (S.C.). They sold Tesoro Preserve and Bella Collina in Florida, Burke Mountain (Vermont), and Rivertowne (near Charleston S.C.). Reunion, near Orlando, and Hammock Beach, in Palm Coast, remain as the only viable surviving former Ginn entities.
GoToby.com has learned that early this year Lubert-Adler shut down BriarRose, a "country living" private community near Lake Oconee, Georgia. BriarRose was conceived in 2003 by Jeff Davis, a former V.P. of Ginn Development and long-time associate of Bobby Ginn. Davis sold the development to Ginn-LA in 2007, but the Ginn-LA re-launch of BriarRose was unsuccessful. Development had languished since. Davis was pushed aside the following year. The promised equestrian center, clubhouse and pool pavilion were never built.
After receiving a copy of a Jeff Davis bankruptcy filing sent by an alert GoToby.com reader, I made some inquiries. I'm told that Lubert-Adler sold the BriarRose lodge, the welcome center and a few hundred acres of land, closed the golf course, terminated the staff and quietly "locked the gates" early this year. Reportedly, no communication was sent to the roughly 200 property owners, many of whom paid cash, or to Davis's original investors (see comment below).
The murky end of BriarRose is merely a continuation of a dark story. Shirley and I attended a Ginn-LA sponsored mini-launch at BriarRose in late 2007 where Davis proudly gave us a tour of the core development. We were taken by helicopter to its nearby sporting club. He also described property on the shore of Lake Oconee where a beach club would be built for BriarRose residents. Turns out, Davis/Ginn-LA didn't own the sporting club or the lakefront property. Davis had only optioned it. Like the other amenities, they were simply smoke and mirrors. None of the more than 20 contracts signed at the mini-launch closed.
Watch the following BriarRose marketing video from 2004 and contemplate how something that sounds so good could have gone so wrong.