Bank buys part of property targeted for Fishers water park

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A high-profile piece of land in Fishers that is part of a proposed hotel and water park project has been bought by the bank that foreclosed upon it.

Evansville-based Old National Bank purchased the parcel for $5.9 million during a sheriff’s sale on Dec. 17 that drew no other bidders. The bank used its debt in the property to acquire it—a legal maneuver known as a “credit bid.”

A spokeswoman for Old National said the bank plans to maintain ownership “until we have a buyer that meets our price requirements.”

The bank’s purchase of the land provides the latest twist in a more than 2-year-old saga that leaves the hotel and water park’s future even cloudier.

Paradise Bay was to have been constructed on the former Britton Golf Course site at State Road 37 and East 131st Street.

The $80 million project, led by Indianapolis-based Puller Group, includes plans for a 16-acre water park and 244-room Wyndham Hotel within Fishers Marketplace, a mix of shops, restaurants and offices.

Old National foreclosed in August on the south half of the 104-acre site, which was owned by Indianapolis developer Skjodt Thomas & Associates.

Complicating matters is the fact Puller Group, which owns the other half, is also facing foreclosure on its parcel. Fifth Third Bank filed a complaint in July against Puller and H20 Resorts II LLC, an entity formed to develop the hotel and water park, and is seeking to collect nearly $8.6 million owed on the balance of the loan.

The foreclosure proceedings are pending in Hamilton Superior Court.

Puller Group CEO Kenneth Puller has said the adjoining property now owned by Old National is important to the water park project because of unfinished infrastructure involving a sewer system that Skjodt Thomas was expected to install.

Skjodt Thomas, which purchased the former golf course property and sold 57 acres to Puller Group, had planned to develop its parcel under the Britton Park Development LLC name, with the infrastructure serving both sides. Work stopped in the summer of 2008, after Britton Park failed to repay a $12.3 million loan it received from Old National, according to a lawsuit filed in 2008 by the lender.

Skjodt Thomas co-owner Paul Skjodt is the owner of the Indiana Ice and the son-in-law of former Indiana Pacers co-owner Melvin Simon, who died in September.

Old National received an $11.8 million judgment against Britton Park upon foreclosing on the property. If the bank sells the land for $5.9 million, the amount listed in the credit bid, the bank could pursue Britton Park for the difference. The credit bid likely is based on appraisals of the property, bankruptcy experts said.

The bank’s mortgage on the property constitutes a lien, which gives it the right to take possession and sell it to pay off the debt, using a credit bid to protect its interests. 

Wendy Brewer, a lawyer at Indianapolis-based Barnes & Thornburg LLP who is  representing Old National, said the bank is unlikely to recoup the entire amount of the loan.

“We’d have another $5.9 million in remaining judgment we could try to collect on,” she said, “but there’s nothing to chase Britton for.”

Instead, Old National will attempt to recover as much as it can by getting the best offer available, Brewer said.

Interest in the property remains high, Fishers attorney Doug Church said, noting the town has fielded inquiries about zoning issues and the availability of economic development incentives.

“It’s a great location,” he said. “That’s never changed.”

Banks’ reluctance to lend money as a result of the credit crunch could make an immediate sale more difficult.


  • Someone Please Do Something
    I didn't like the waterpark idea, but I hate the mess that it is now. Please, sombody buy up the land and develop it. What an absolute mess. The golf course was very nice, wish they had kept it.

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  1. How much you wanna bet, that 70% of the jobs created there (after construction) are minimum wage? And Harvey is correct, the vast majority of residents in this project will drive to their jobs, and to think otherwise, is like Harvey says, a pipe dream. Someone working at a restaurant or retail store will not be able to afford living there. What ever happened to people who wanted to build buildings, paying for it themselves? Not a fan of these tax deals.

  2. Uh, no GeorgeP. The project is supposed to bring on 1,000 jobs and those people along with the people that will be living in the new residential will be driving to their jobs. The walkable stuff is a pipe dream. Besides, walkable is defined as having all daily necessities within 1/2 mile. That's not the case here. Never will be.

  3. Brad is on to something there. The merger of the Formula E and IndyCar Series would give IndyCar access to International markets and Formula E access the Indianapolis 500, not to mention some other events in the USA. Maybe after 2016 but before the new Dallara is rolled out for 2018. This give IndyCar two more seasons to run the DW12 and Formula E to get charged up, pun intended. Then shock the racing world, pun intended, but making the 101st Indianapolis 500 a stellar, groundbreaking event: The first all-electric Indy 500, and use that platform to promote the future of the sport.

  4. No, HarveyF, the exact opposite. Greater density and closeness to retail and everyday necessities reduces traffic. When one has to drive miles for necessities, all those cars are on the roads for many miles. When reasonable density is built, low rise in this case, in the middle of a thriving retail area, one has to drive far less, actually reducing the number of cars on the road.

  5. The Indy Star announced today the appointment of a new Beverage Reporter! So instead of insightful reports on Indy pro sports and Indiana college teams, you now get to read stories about the 432nd new brewery open or some obscure Hoosier winery winning a county fair blue ribbon. Yep, that's the coverage we Star readers crave. Not.