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Renaissance Bay heads for sheriff's sale

June 7, 2011

A $150 million project that slammed head-first into the recession is slated for a sheriff's sale later this month.

Plans for Renaissance Bay had called for more than 300 luxury condos at Keystone Avenue and 78th Street, on 55 acres surrounding a massive lake that connects to the White River.

But the developer, a partnership of Sunstone Properties and Shiel Sexton Co., managed to build only a handful of the proposed buildings inspired by the architecture of South Carolina. Condo units had been priced from $350,000 to $800,000.

The sheriff's sale, one of the city's largest to date, is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. June 15 at the City-County Building.

Fort Wayne-based Star Financial Bank is trying to recover some of the more than $23 million it loaned for the project. The bank has said in court filings that the developer stopped making payments in April 2010.

Defendants in the case are listed as Renaissance Bay Associates, of which the large local builder Shiel Sexton is a partner, along with House Investments, a locally based company that specializes in equity financing and mezzanine debt.

A court docket shows the case was closed in April, and a judgment of more than $3 million entered for the bank. The sheriff's sale was ordered April 21.

Shiel Sexton had a role building the project but not an equity interest, Executive Vice President Richard "Buddy" Hennessey told IBJ in December 2010.

A buyer likely would consider converting the unfinished condo project into apartments, taking a similar tack as the buyers of downtown's The Maxwell. Condo sales have been especially weak in recent years, while apartment rent rates and occupancies have risen.

The Renaissance site actually had been home to an apartment complex called The Landings before the developers trucked in massive quantities of fill dirt to make way for the tony condos.

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