Toby Sits Down with Reynolds to Discuss the Conservatory Gorilla Flap

In retrospect, my characterization of Reynolds as the 2,000 pound gorilla was inappropriate.

Palm Coast, FL – June 27, 2010 – The Conservatory was conceived and developed by Bobby Ginn and Lubert-Adler (Ginn-LA). In hindsight, it was ill-conceived as a community of million dollar and multi-million dollar homes. It is floundering, badly in need of market repositioning. Architectural and landscaping requirements, Property Owners Association fees and services, as well as club membership options and pricing need to be adjusted. Until they are, it’s unlikely that anyone will commence construction or be willing to pay fair value for existing lots.
Based on information provided to me, I portrayed a division of Reynolds Plantation as the 2000 pound gorilla that seemed to be delaying needed changes to the detriment of property owners. Reynolds Senior Vice President Tom Allhoff took umbrage. Tom and I have always had a cordial relationship so we agreed to meet. Last Wednesday I sat down with Tom, Pat Maisenbacher, President of the Conservatory Property Owners Association, and John Bladel, representing the Club’s Advisory Board of Governors (ABOG).
Here is what I took away from the meeting.
My gorilla characterization of Reynolds Plantation was inappropriate on two different levels. On the first level, Reynolds is not responsible for the present situation. The problems existed when they arrived about a year ago to take over Bobby Ginn’s roll as developer and club operator for Lubert-Adler. Reynolds does not want to be thrown into the same category as Ginn. They are a recent arrival trying to fix the problems.  
For many observers, that is a difficult distinction to make. Hammock Beach (including the Resort, the Conservatory, Yacht Harbor Village, and the Gardens) will be tied to Bobby Ginn long after his name disappeared. So will Reunion, Bella Collina, Cobblestone Park, and other communities where Reynolds has taken over for Ginn. Property owners in Ginn-developed communities going through short sales, foreclosure, and/or bankruptcy are not likely to get much help from ANY direction. To them, Ginn-LA or Reynolds-LA; what’s the difference? It’s still LA and Ginn’s shadow is upon them.
There is a second level on which Reynolds characterization as the 2000 pound gorilla was inappropriate. The gorilla impeding real progress, it seems, is the banks. I used to make note of every foreclosure filing on Conservatory lots, but when the number began to approach 150 several months ago, I stopped counting, but filings did not stop. Yet the banks have approved only a handful of short sales and have taken title to even fewer through foreclosure sales. Meanwhile, distressed lot owners are in purgatory, unable to put their misery behind them. Most tell me that they "just want it to be over."
Another thing I took away from the meeting was the fact that all property owners within the GINNdom do not share a common agenda. Clearly, there are many like John Bladel who is pleased with strides made by Reynolds to improve the "Club Experience" at Hammock Beach where the resort is nearly filled with visitors. Opposite on the spectrum are those who may live out of state feeling trapped by the requirement to pay club dues and association fees on a vacant lot, the value of which has plummeted as much as 95%.
It’s impossible to write one story to fit all. Inevitably, readers who have a stake in the GINNdom are offended when I write something perceived as negative. At the same time those in "distressed property purgatory" think I should be more strident. Sometimes, I miss the mark.
Ginn is gone (operationally). It’s Reynolds challenge going forward. Tom assured me that Reynolds will begin working on architectural and landscaping changes. The sooner that can be done (along with the other required changes), the sooner Conservatory property owners will be able to move forward; some to build, others to cut their losses and move on to the next chapter in their life.
My goal is to tell the story as it unfolds in as balanced a way as possible. Reynolds has experienced the difficulty of dealing with property owners of diverse agendas. (It was property owners’ input that triggered my gorilla portrayal.) Meanwhile, I am reminded that I cannot please everyone.
20 replies
  1. Evelyn Palmeri
    Evelyn Palmeri says:


    Properly the blame should be on elected officials throughout Flagler County. I would be willing to bet that if Bobby Ginn showed up again, and even knowing what’s happened in the past, they’d welcome him and his grandiose schemes with open arms and open public coffers.

  2. Bill
    Bill says:

    No Appology Needed


    I don’t see the need for you to appologize for your comments. Reynolds may not have set up the current fiasco but they still are told what to do by Lupert/Adler and they have not been as responsive as they would lead you to believe. If they are not the gorilla they are still in the zoo.

  3. sam johnson
    sam johnson says:

    shame on you toby

    first of all the "president or board members at these places were set up to misrepresent the real owners at"ginndome" so to quote this guy from hammock is a joke toby…in fact a board member at reunion responded on your site explaining how horrible reunion is in fact being run.
    the abog is a joke to take the pressure off of the decisions by can you have a board member who was not voted in the the owners of reunion or hammock?
    i am surprised that you have fell for the info at least from the guy running hammock but i can tell you reunion is being run into the ground by searles who has his own set of personal problems
    at reunion. maybe you should contact him and respond on how that went

  4. Frank
    Frank says:

    Don’t agree

    Sorry Toby,

    You missed the mark here ! Renolds has been running the show at Reunion for over a year and nothing, I repeat nothing has changed ! In fact things have gotten worse. (At least Ginn had a vision) these guys have done and continue to do nothing as property values continue their slide. You might want to meet with some of the owners and residents of Reunion and get the real story, not be swayed by the fast talkers at Reynolds.

  5. John
    John says:


    As I have posted in the past my personal objective in this mess is to figure the easiest, less painful way out of Conservatory for me and my partners.

    I have heard from numerous sources that Reynold’s has thrown a wrench in the banks dealing with current owners with a deed in lieu or a short sale by trying to position themselves to build homes on the lots in conjunction with the banks. I have no idea if that statement is true or not. Did you speak to Reynold’s specifically about any ongoing negotiations with the banks under the scenario outlined above?

    People just want to move on. If they are getting in the way of that then shame on them. They are in a unique position to help everyone of the struggling owners in Conservatory by either pulling a deal together with the banks that keep the current owners in mind and create the least amount of damage to them OR by getting out of the way and letting the banks get back to negotiating the short sales.

  6. Frank
    Frank says:

    No Apology Needed

    Toby, You do not need to apologize for stating the obvious re LA/Reynolds/BG.

    The ones who need to apologize are Ginn et al and LA…..and apologize to everyone they have screwed even those who did not fall for THE scam.

  7. BB
    BB says:

    Plenty of blame

    All due respect, it will be very hard for you to write a balanced article. You are too close to the issue and all of the emotion comes out in these articles. I am an avid reader of your articles but as this unprecedented turn of the markets has taken place, it appears to me that everybody is looking for someone to blame and no one seems to remember the reality of the market. There is no one person to blame. The system, the banks, the developers, the buyers, all of the above…

  8. Steve
    Steve says:

    Don’t Blame Buyers

    I disagree with the statement by BB that the buyers are responsible for the state of the Ginn communities. I was part of the 2004 Reunion launch, intending to make this my permanent residence. I was lied to from the beginnig (the HOA fees,golf membership fees, etc.) by the Ginn sales staff and through out my lot ownership. I would have never purchased my property had I been told the truth by Ginn. The reduction in property values in Reunion would have never been as extensive had Ginn finished what was intended; shopping center, Nicholas clubhouse, functional stables, bike/walking trails, etc. All the communities that exist,with (some or all) the amenities that were promised in Reunion,around where I live in Orlando, did not lose anywhere near the value that Reunion did. Pay attention to the comments posted by Frank and Sammy as they relate first hand experiences dealing with Ginn and his personnel. Also, I disagree that Toby cannot write a balanced article, as he is only reporting his interview/investigation results.

  9. Jen Gonzalez
    Jen Gonzalez says:

    Boy, have they got everyone fooled.

    I thought your initial article told it like it is. We have been involved with the Conservatory since day one. Reynolds is doing what they are being told by Ginn and LA – basically nothing to improve things. These guys are master manipulators. Maybe now they are forced to do something constructive since they face all of this publicity. Whatever works!

  10. P Kelly
    P Kelly says:

    The Banks’ Fault?

    I am confused. On one hand you point out that buyers are not eager to buy these lots, then you blame the banks for not approving short sales. You have to have a buyer to have a short sale.

    The lenders stand to lose much more than the owners. Time is their only ally.

  11. John
    John says:

    RE: P Kelly

    You have got to be kidding me. "The lenders stand to lose much more than the owners". So let me get this straight. The banks required 10% down and allowed most people to pay interest only at 7%. So at minimum on most of these lots people are into just the land for $150,000 (without taxes, HOA, etc.). Now these owners are faced with continuing to feel the bleed or to foreclose on the property where their credit will be ruined. Plus they have the added bonus of possibly being sued and going BK to avoid a lifetime of paying a judgment.

    The banks on the other hand will take the properties back, fire sell them for whatever they can and then obtain more funds from the federal government to get them over any future speed bumps in the road. They underwrote this crap with appraisals they controlled, collected huge fees and now want to force a market downturn of more than 90% on the owners.

    I have no clue if you are the same Pat Kelly who used to run the Conservatory "sales center" or someone else but either way, you are a blind fool.

  12. John
    John says:

    RE: Toby

    Thank you for the offer. I have found people like P. Kelly just don’t get it, I know that because I used to be a guy like Mr. Kelly. It is amazing how perspective changes when your circumstances change. I used to be a hard nosed conservative who believed that a debt obligation was always met, come heck or high water! It is impossible to change the thought process of those people unless their circumstances change. I wish that on nobody because frankly the effects are monumental. They just don’t get it, I certainly never did!

  13. John
    John says:

    RE: Toby

    Thank you for the offer. I have found people like P. Kelly just don’t get it, I know that because I used to be a guy like Mr. Kelly. It is amazing how perspective changes when your circumstances change. I used to be a hard nosed conservative who believed that a debt obligation was always met, come heck or high water! It is impossible to change the thought process of those people unless their circumstances change. I wish that on nobody because frankly the effects are monumental. They just don’t get it, I certainly never did!

  14. bankslayer
    bankslayer says:


    Is it the same P.Kelly that used to work for SunTrust Bank and received $1m from Ginn-LA for a piece of land at the Conservatory. No wonder he is in favor of the Banks and Ginn-LA.
    Ginn-LA and P.Kelly were the only ones to make money out of the Conservatory. There was another SunTrust Bank Employee that bought in the Conservatory as well.

  15. bankslayer
    bankslayer says:


    It’s the same P. Kelly who used to work for SunTrust Bank. No wonder he is in favor of the banks. He also owned property adjacent to the Conservatory with an easement through the Conservatory that would have eliminated several lots. Ginn-LA had to pay $1 million to Kelly for the property and easement.

  16. Toby
    Toby says:

    Reply to Bill

    Thank you for your support, but this commentary is not an apology. It’s a clarification. My original commentary was based on information I had been given at the time. It’s Reynolds job going forward. They have a lot of work to do and I hope they succeed. I will continue to report what I see as I see it.

  17. Toby
    Toby says:

    Reply to John

    We did talk about negotiations with the banks. Tom Allhoff says that discussions with the banks have not been productive and that the banks seem to be uncooperative.

  18. Toby
    Toby says:

    Reply to Patrick

    There are buyers at the $15K to $25K level. Current asking prices. Of 13 Conservatory lots listed one is $29.9K. Another is $44.9, and another is $49.9. All others are above $50K.

    Buyers will not pay that much until questions about the Conservatory’s future building requirements, club options, and association fees are answered.

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