Hahnville subdivision WILL be finished ...

... says Saints star who has, rumors say, dropped the ball on Brookshire Estates


June 21, 2007 at 1:50 pm  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

Hahnville subdivision WILL be finished ...
Former New Orleans Saints defensive lineman Willie Whitehead wants to dispel rumors and speculations that he is not going to complete a subdivision he started developing in Hahnville.

Whitehead’s development project, Brookshire Estates, in St. Charles Parish began to take a turn for the worse in 2005, immediately following Hurricane Katrina.

“The project was rolling full swing and then Katrina hit,” Whitehead told the Herald-Guide in an exclusive interview.
Whitehead said he had a letter of commitment from a local bank which stated he would be eligible to receive money to fund the project, lots pre-sold to a developer in Arizona that would meet the bank’s requirements to secure the funding, and homeowners with signed contracts ready to build.

Problems began to surface when deadlines weren’t met and the Arizona developer, refused to guarantee the loan.

Whitehead has lined up another developer in Georgia, who has produced a letter of credit and a desire to purchase lots.

“With the new developer on board, I’ve signed with another bank, and they are willing to finance the project, we’re just waiting for the loan to go through,” Whitehead continued.

Rumors that money was not refunded to homeowners who pulled of out of the project aren’t true, said Latter and Blum agent, Lori Clay.

“Anyone who decided to change their mind, were allowed to sign a letter of release from their contract, and were refunded their money,” she said.

Desmond Hilaire, councilman for Hahnville said he supports the project.

“I think the project is a great idea and I will do anything I can to help the developer expedite the process.”

There are six lots under contract by potential homeowners and 45 lots waiting to be sold in Phase I.

Once the funding failed to come through for the first phase of the development, Whitehead was unable to pay Hubbard Enterprises for work the company did in the subdivision.

“Willie Whitehead owes me $750,000 for work that I did at Brookshire,” Bill Hubbard, owner of Hubbard Enterprises told the Herald-Guide.

Hubbard said his job was to build the road through the subdivision, pour concrete slabs, put in water lines, and other infrastructure to prepare it for homeowners.

“I don’t have any personal problems with Willie, he’s a nice man, it’s just business. I just want the money he owes me,” Hubbard continued.

Hubbard, who is a candidate for the St. John Parish President’s race, said it will require about $1.2 million dollars to complete the work in the subdivision including the $750,000 he’s owed.

“I’ve been developing subdivisions for 10 years, I’ve set-up the infrastructure at Lakewood Estates in Luling, and two other subdivisions Cypress Cove and Acadian Trace, all in St. Charles Parish, I know and understand the business,” Hubbard said.

“When I initially started working for Willie, I was paid $200,000 on my first invoice, on my next invoice the payments stopped,” he continued.

Hubbard said he would work with Whitehead again, but would request payment upfront before doing any kind of work for him.

“I have to complete the project I started with Willie, I own the road that I put in the subdivision up to one year after its dedicated,” he said.

Hubbard said that once he can complete the work he started on Phase I of the project, the subdivision will be ready for St. Charles Parish Council’s final approval (dedication) in four months.

“Ninety-percent of Phase I of the subdivision is complete, which means 26 lots are ready to build on.”

Whitehead said money fell short when an Arizona developer he was working with failed to guarantee a loan to move the project forward.

“My property managers and I, were working with a subdivision developer - Thomas Wilson from Arizona - who put a down payment of $40,000 on eight lots in Brookshire Estates, but he needed to show the bank a letter of credit that he could come up with the rest of the money owed on the lots - $450,000.”

Whitehead said Wilson refused to submit a letter of credit to the bank, which forced him to seek another person interested in buying the lots.

“I first became aware of Brookshire Estates in late 2006,” Wilson explained.

“I own and run a private "Design and Build" development company,” he said.

“We have built or been pivotal in the development of over 40 semi-luxury and luxury homes throughout the southwestern part of the United States; principally in Phoenix, Arizona, Las Vegas, Nevada and Los Angeles, California,” he continued.

“Brookshire was brought to my attention almost by chance, as I was visiting relatives and assessing possible development opportunities in the area due to the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina

“As I saw it, the location of the proposed development was opportune due primarily to its location within St. Charles Parish, and its proximity to other developments in which we were already committed.”

Wilson said he won't get into the specifics of the contract, but said the agreement was to purchase lots at a fixed price on a specific date.

“In its simplest terms, my contract called for me to basically write a check, and then to receive titles to lots that would be available after dedication of the subdivision's main street to Parish officials.

“All deadlines have come and past, and by my estimation that even if they were to dedicate soon, Brookshire Estates would not see home construction until the new year,” he continued.

“My only options are to wait until they produce what they said they were going to produce, or to sue for loss, which defeats the issue of what I do for a living which is fundamentally...to create.”

Wilson said he will not produce a credit letter because the contract he signed with Whitehead didn’t require one.
Whitehead said he tried to resolve the issue with Wilson, but said he (Wilson) was more interested in being his property manager, a position assigned to two Atlanta, Georgia developers Eddie Drake and Carlos Smiley.

“I met with Thomas on a couple of occasions and the guy was more interested in trying to get me to get rid of my property managers,” Whitehead said.

“If he does produce a letter confirming his credit, we are still willing to work with him.”

Questions? Comments? Story idea? Write to Shonna Riggs at shonnar@heraldguide.com




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