A Horse, a Horse, My GINNdom for a Horse

Is Bobby Ginn going to need more help to save his GINNdom?

Palm Coast, FL – June 9, 2008 – Shakespeare’s King Richard III’s need of rescue brought about the famous line "A horse, a horse, my Kingdom for a horse." The latest buzz out of The Ginn Company (Bobby’s GINNdom), indicates that he may be needing help as he is assailed by lawsuits, disgruntled property owners, and the impact of minimal sales on cash flow.
He may have achieved a partial success today. I learned this afternoon that Lubert-Adler, Ginn’s financial partner, has struck a deal with an Atlanta-based developer to build out BriarRose, a Ginn development in the Georgia’s Oconee Valley. More on that later.
If you’ve been following this website very long, you know that I’ve been a fan of Bobby Ginn because of his accomplishments and his charitable giving and the quality of his developments. I’ve reported the bad with the good (objectively I hope). Over the past few months, it’s become harder to be a fan and easier to empathize with those Ginn property owners who feel they were deceived. I no longer believe that "let the buyer beware" is the only appropriate comment to those who experienced losses due to declining property values. It is becoming more apparent to me that from sales and marketing tactics through the appraisal and mortgage process, some individuals may have stepped over the line.
The fact that there are some really great deals available for present and future buyers who will ultimately build within Ginn’s communities does not mitigate present owners’ pain and suffering (foreclosures, possible bankruptcy, loss of retirement funds, etc.).
Here’s an example from my own recent experience.
The first weekend in December ’07, Ginn hosted a partial release of lots in a recently acquired property in Georgia’s Oconee Valley call The BriarRose. Shirley and I were invited to attend and I wrote about it on December 3rd. The article was upbeat, describing a wonderful property that combined a golfing community with a nearby hunt (sporting) club. I found it personally appealing because I grew up in a small town, owned guns, and had one of the best hunting dogs I’ve ever seen. And I play golf.
The BriarRose was developed by Jeff Davis, who once led Ginn’s sales team. When sales at the development stalled out, Bobby Ginn and his financial partner, Lubert-Adler, stepped in to buy BriarRose (article). As part of the deal, Jeff returned to the Ginn Company as President of Ginn Real Estate, where he was again responsible for the sales and marketing of all of Ginn’s properties.
To rejuvenate sales at BriarRose, they held a mini-launch. If you have never been invited to a Ginn property release, you have missed an experience. He pulls out all the stops; deluxe accommodations, copious amounts of food, cocktail parties with "heavy hors devours," often including top entertainment, and plenty of young energized sales people to keep the buzz going. The BriarRose was a partial release without the entertainment and without Bobby himself, but guests were made to feel special.
Hype vs. Reality
Hype – I was told (or maybe just led to believe) that Ginn had purchased all of BriarRose; the golf residential property as well as the nearby, but separate, sporting club. I was told the restored plantation house on the sporting club property was going to become a high end restaurant. Shirley and I were transported there by helicopter where I experienced the multi-station trap stadium and the walk up course. We also were driven by the kennel, where dozens of hunting dogs are housed.
Reality – Ginn never bought the hunt club property. In fact Jeff Davis never owned the hunt club property. He had only optioned it. The owner of the hunt club property has reportedly cancelled all agreements with Davis. Yet, the BriarRose website still has a page dedicated to the sporting club (webpage current as of 6/9). The new plans I learned of today will put the sporting club on unplatted property adjacent to the residential development. Hunt Club memberships will be sold to non-residents of BriarRose. Membership will include use of other BriarRose amenities.
Hype – Ginn sales staff told me that over 20 cottage lots and at least a couple of residential lots were sold at the release.
Reality – All but perhaps a couple of contracts were cancelled or failed to close.
Hype – Jeff Davis, a former Ginn executive had returned to the Ginn Company to head up marketing and sales for all Ginn properties.
Reality – Davis, facing a serious slump in the market and stymied by a lack of Ginn (or rather Lubert-Adler) commitment to marketing funds asked to be relieved, to return to BriarRose. As a consultant, I’m told that he was to help find a buyer for the BriarRose property. A few months ago, Jeff’s son Brian, who headed sales at BriarRose, was terminated by Ginn. According to sources close to the situation, a meeting was scheduled a little over a week ago at BriarRose to include Bobby Ginn, Lubert-Adler and Jeff Davis. But the day before the meeting, Jeff received a termination letter notifying him that his Ginn email and computer privileges were suspended and he was ordered to leave the property. He maintains the right to visit his personally owned lots at BriarRose and those of his son. I hear that Ginn did visit the BriarRose about a week ago.
Today’s new information includes promising information about an agreement with an Atlanta-based production builder who will handle sales and marketing the remaining 90 lots at BriarRose. About 200 lots have sold in BriarRose, mostly at prices between $200,000 and $250,000. That’s about $45,000,000. Inspection of the property, it’s lack of completed roads, and only nine holes completed of the 18-hole course, it’s hard to see where $45,000,000 has gone.
If BriarRose were an isolated case, one could site unique circumstances. But it is not. Property owners at other Ginn developed properties have told me that BriarRose is not an exception. Only Ginn’s two Florida resorts, Hammock Beach, in Palm Coast, and Reunion in Kissimmee, have developed traction. Uncompleted projects, lawsuits and/or severe property owner disgruntlement are abundant at other Ginn properties.
At Yacht Harbor Village, the residential home and condominium community located along the Intracoastal Waterway in Palm Coast, sales have stagnated. One and a half years from the issue date of the Certificate of Occupancy, the lobby, restaurant, and ships store remain uncompleted.
At the Conservatory, only a few lots were successfully flipped for a profit. Coincidently (or not), public records show that two of them were flipped by the owner of a landscaping company in which Bobby Ginn is rumored to be a partner. Meanwhile, the remaining property owners face the fact that lots are not generating sales, even at prices 1/3 or less of the original acquisition price. Over 60 of 337 lots are in foreclosure. 122 property owners have not paid 2007 property taxes. On the plus side, Ginn did complete the impressive clubhouse and has a PGA Fall Tour event scheduled there this year.
At Bella Collina, an unofficial group of property owners meets regularly to discuss possible strategies to make Ginn build out the amenities they believe they were promised. Bella Collina was supposed to have an equestrian center, a sports club with a fitness center, tennis courts and swimming pools. So far, no tennis, no equestrian facility, and no swimming pool complex. The only fitness offering, a small room in the newly opened clubhouse, features only a few pieces of equipment. Bobby Ginn attended the grand opening of the new clubhouse a few weeks ago but did not address the smaller than expected crowd of property owners.
At Cobblestone Park, near Columbia, SC, residents tell stories of large increases in association fees to support the lavish landscaping of new areas developed by Ginn but unsold. Some also question the link between association fee increases and services provided by landscaping and security companies connected to Ginn.
Tesoro’s planned Beach Club has been put on hold. At Tesoro, Quail West, Reunion, and Bella Collina, the number of foreclosure is disturbing.
A series of additional lawsuits are in the works. Last year’s original suit from Michigan has been moved to a Florida jurisdiction, where it has been joined by at least two suits filed by Bella Collina property owners. Other suits are reported to be in the works.
Disturbing also is the number of high level personnel shifts and departures from GINNdom.
  • Matt Hagler (VP), aGinn original is gone.
  • John Gantt (VP) – reassigned to head up sales at Tesoro was Bobby’s original right hand man.
  • Bob VanBergen (VP), another original, is gone.
  • Earl Hewlette. (VP), another original who had worked with Bobby several years is gone.
  • Jeff Davis (President of Ginn Real Estate), gone.
It’s rumored that there was a recent meeting of Ginn and Lubert-Adler executives at Bobby’s Carolina ranch immediately following Bobby’s visit to BriarRose. I’m told we should expect a major announcement(s) soon. What should we expect? Will it be hype or reality, or some of each? My mind is filled with possibilities.
10 replies
  1. Bill Boylan
    Bill Boylan says:

    Ginn Communities

    Good Article, I couldn\\\\\\’t have written it better myself, but as you know from our meetings there is a lot more information you have left out, that the relevant authorities will be made aware of. The rumor I have heard is that Briarose is actually up for sale, but time will tell, a week or so should give us the answers.

  2. Dawn Conciatori
    Dawn Conciatori says:


    Hi Toby,
    It would be interesting to know if the percentage of foreclosures in any of the GINN Properties is below, at par with or above the average in each of the surrounding areas. It is difficult to draw any conclusion on Ginn\\’s success or challenges without knowing how they compare. If the percentage of foreclosures in Ginn properties is below the average market, then Ginn property values are doing quite well despite very challenging markets. It would be very interesting to know…..thanks! Dawn

  3. Bill Boylan
    Bill Boylan says:

    Ginn Communities

    In answer to Dawn’s comment as a Realtor in Orlando and having over 25 listings in Ginn Communities I feel I am well qualified to answer this question. In general property values in Orlando are down by up to 20% but in Ginn Communities in Central Florida and Tesoro they are down by up to 80% which is certainly not normal and the reason is simple, the value was never there in the 1st place, the prices were artificially inflated and I am sure the relevant Authorities will be investigating in the near future and it would not surprise me if the Attorney General or F.B.I. are called in.

  4. DWF
    DWF says:


    You\\\\\\’re the most informed source of real estate related news in Flagler county. Thank you for the consistent reporting of events, circumstances and relevant developments of continued interest. Look forward to a personal meeting. Regards

  5. MHL
    MHL says:


    Thanks for this article.
    Cobblestone Park has many more problems than what you stated, but what you said is a start.
    As pre-Ginn residents, we just want our neighborhood back and cease living under a dictatorship that could care less about us.
    Most employees here in \\\”Director\\\” or Concierge Services need to be eliminated to assist in lowering our HOA dues. The Director of Security is a joke as well as our Director of Property Services. How nice it would be to do nothing and still receive a salary!
    Sure do appreciate your opening the eyes of the pro-Ginn folks.

  6. Bill Boylan
    Bill Boylan says:

    Ginn Communities

    Is everyone aware that Ginn Title is no more, Rumor today is everyone has gone, been let go. Sounds like the Accountants are now running the Business, so expect sales of Communities that are not performing, which leaves only Hammock Beach and Reunion, the rest are living on borrowed time.

  7. Bill Boylan
    Bill Boylan says:

    Ginn Communities

    Skip in reply to your Pro Ginn rant, I don’t believe you even believe that rubbish yourself, just answer a few questions for me :-
    Why hasn’t Ginn finished Bella Collina, Cobblestone, Reunion, Tesoro, Quail West, Yacht Harbor Village yet, in fact why hasn’t he finished any amenities promised in any Community. Why did Ginn state in their original brochure on Bella Collina that he had Dock Permits, when to this day they still do not and the boat docks have been left with moss growing over them for over 2 years. You stupidly claim that Ginn discouraged Investors from buying, which is an outrageous claim even by Ginn’s standards, there are many investors who bought Lots in every Community, some have up to 25 Lots in Ginn Communities, are you stupid enough to believe that they are going to build on every lot, grow up and be sensible, Ginn sold Land and encouraged people to flip some the same day, this had to be set up by the Ginn Team prior to launches. Also tell me why the 2 big Law Suits one of which is being kept quiet and out of the media, Ginn cannot afford to pay in the region of $140m.
    The Ginn people are already coming out of the closet and wanting to tell all, there are also some Ex-Ginn people who have signed, confidentiality agreements that will be deposed to tell all, I have a list of their names. This is what a current Ginn Employee has said :-
    Guess what, it’s much worse then you think. Having worked for Ginn over the past several years I have information that would blow your mind. Everything from conversations between EVP’s, hardcore documents, emails, etc. Yes, I have been in a top level management position with access to any data throughout the entire company at any time.

    One of the reasons why I haven’t come forward is because it’s my ace in the hole. I know how unethical this company can be to everyone it comes in contact with. I learned early on to protect myself. It’s almost like someone that was falsely imprisoned, by the time they come out there a better criminal then when they went in. I assure you that I’m no criminal, but I’m no sucker either. This company and its officers are so dirty and corrupt most of you have no idea. But for now, like many of you, I have bills to pay. I need this job until something better comes along.

    Don’t worry, the day I leave I will go to every online forum and share the information I have with all of you.

    Time is running out for the Ginn Company, the worm has turned and the truth will come out very soon.
    By the way Skip I have never taken a Buyer to a Ginn Community, I do my best to look after my Buyers.

  8. Skip
    Skip says:

    Ginn Bashers

    For those avid followers of the Gotoby.com website it’s important to take into consideration some additional points. This website generates income based on readership and no one reads good news. This website has become almost completely fueld by unhappy individuals looking for a place to complain. People are inherently attracted to car accidents, plane crashes, deaths, etc. There are a contingent of folks out there upset with Bobby Ginn because they acted irrationally and irresponsibly with their money. Bobby Ginn has delivered amenities here in Palm Coast far beyond what anyone ever dreamed. At places like the Conservator at Hammock Beach you’ve got a group of property owners upset because their property has declined in value and they want to sue Bobby. That same group of people threatend lawsuits on the day of the launch when Ginn tried limiting the number of sales to that invetor group most likely to try and head off problems like this arising in the future. The real tragedy is that no one has placed any blame with the brokers who brought these people here in the first place. I’ll bet the comments earlier from the gentleman from Orlando are based on the dissatisfaction of the customers he brought in, got involved, and was compensated handsomely for. His clients complain to him, and he unloads the blame onto Ginn. Ginn couldn’t have done any more to stop investors from buying. Sometimes you are damned if you do, damned if you don’t. When things start to turn you’ll see these same people jumping back on the bandwagon. Folks like Don Tobin, the author of this website, will undoubtedly be looking to collect referral fees from The Ginn Company for funneling buyers to Ginn properties. However, those brokers may find themselves out in the cold.

  9. JH
    JH says:


    As a Realtor in South Florida, I am ashamed to admit that I too, was suckered by the “like never seen before” marketing hype of the Ginn Company. Without a doubt, the marketing hype was sought out, ordered and approved by none other than “good ole friendly” Bobby Ginn – the snake charmer of high end real estate.
    Good job on the bait and switch Bobby – in your finest day, you actually had us paying (for near swampland in Western Martin (St. Lucie area) sometimes upwards of $3,000,000 per acre. FOR DIRT!!! Oh, well the dirt had a name – “Tesoro”… so I guess that made it all OK. The “world class” Beach Club at Tesoro (well, 10 or 15 miles away) was built so close to the Nuclear Power plant that when the winds were right, you’d feel the balmy nuclear breezes.
    I was sucked in by the Ginn Company through some very big and well respected names in the real estate business, in early 2004, just months after getting my license. The helicopter rides, the Shania Twain concerts, the food fit for no less than the Sultan of Dubai — was no doubt a grand scale manipulation of every person who owned a checkbook. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of this world? Just write a check to smiling Bobby Ginn and let him smile and laugh all the way to the bank.
    This was a very tough lesson to learn in my early real estate career – a career that I entered into in the hopes of actually helping people and with all good intentions.
    The silver lining is, I can now spot a “Ginn” on the first hello. I have become an advocate for my clients and against the all too many greedy and corrupt crooks who call themselves realtors or developers.
    There is a cautionary tale for all of us from this horrific man’s gluttony. If it looks too good to be true… (I’ll let you figure out the rest on your own)…
    Another realtor ready to testify against smiling Bobby

  10. Joe
    Joe says:

    Bill Boylan?

    I requested information from Reunion not too long ago and subsequently researched reunion for a second home online. I recieved an email from Bill Boylan and Chris Godkin from ReMax but when i search Reunion all i see is negative press on Ginn Reunion from everyone including this Boylan guy. We stayed there about 2 months ago. Toby, do you have someone that you use at Reunion?

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