Willow Grove development failure explained in Cookeville newspaper

LOOKING BACK-County mayor Dale Reagan (standing center in white) gathered with developers and contractors to go over plans for the LaGardena Resort project back in 2010 just before it was scheduled to break ground.  Real estate broker Dino Cates (sitting, second from right), who recently commented on the failed development in the Herald Citizen newspaper, said the project “fell through due to the economy.” (HORIZON file photo)

LOOKING BACK-County mayor Dale Reagan (standing center in white) gathered with developers and contractors to go over plans for the LaGardena Resort project back in 2010 just before it was scheduled to break ground. Real estate broker Dino Cates (sitting, second from right), who recently commented on the failed development in the Herald Citizen newspaper, said the project “fell through due to the economy.” (HORIZON file photo)

WILLOW GROVE-Details surrounding the failed LaGardena Resort project that three years ago was scheduled to bring nearly 2,000 jobs worth $52.6 million a year, along with a 400-room hotel, spa, golf course, equestrian center, convention facility, condos, and much more, here were recently revealed in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper by reporter Laura Militana.

Her story titled “Clay County resort development a casualty of the economy” said the project “was on schedule to break ground” in the summer of 2010, but failed due to the “bleak economy” at the time.

Militana’s story explained the “Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development even approved an application by the Celina/Clay County Joint Industrial Development Board for a $25 million loan to finance the construction,” but quoted Dino Cates, broker/owner of RE/MAX Cross Roads Realty and Auction, explaining the downfall of the project.

“La Gardena fell through due to the economy and no company would market the bonds, which meant the bonds were never released,” Cates told Militana. “Chase had committed to market the bonds and having most pre-sold.

“Then the week before the bonds were to be let, the vice president of Chase Bank left for another job, thus not allowing La Gardena to meet their commitment to have a bond company handle the bonds.”

Militana said, “La Gardena, which was under the direction of developer Roman A. Veksler, pulled out and the property–consisting of 1,400 acres along Dale Hollow Lake in Clay County–went back to the owners and the banks.”

“They tried for more than five years to make it work, but could not get a break in the economy,” she quoted Cates saying.

The project was touted at time not only by Clay County, but also Fentress, Overton, and Pickett Counties.

An article appearing in the April 21, 2010 HORIZON explained the project was in the works “with generous involvement of (then) county mayors, Dale Reagan (Clay), Kenneth Copeland (Overton), Steven Bilbrey (Pickett) and county executive John B. Mullinex (Fentress).

The story also explained Senator Mae Beavers and then State Representative Les Winningham “provided valuable support and influence for this regional economic development,” showing the relevance of the proposed project.

The developer even introduced their pick of contractors for the project in the June 23, 2010 HORIZON where they announced W&O Construction, Inc. as the primary general contractor.

As reported last month, the closure of Maple Grove School was also put off due to speculation surrounding the growth the project was expected to bring to the area here.