Retail, hotel area sold at foreclosure

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 21, 2010

Wingate by Wyndham Hotel and an adjacent private cemetery along with the grounds of what was to be the $25 million Cypress Centre Marketplace were sold at foreclosure Wednesday, the second such default on high-profile commercial property in Vicksburg in a week’s time.

California-based Pacifica Loan Four, LLC bid $375,000 on nine-tenths of an acre of land once held by Tate Street Development, LLC, headed by Vicksburg developer James Hamilton, who died in April 2009. Another tract up for sale on the courthouse steps went to State Bank & Trust for $318,500. Together, the tracts are about 1.85 acres.

The property includes most of a partially completed retail development near South Frontage and Bazinsky roads. Wingate remains open for business, sales director Julie Ford said, and the foreclosure did not include the popular El Sombrero restaurant, which is on an adjacent tract and owned separately.

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In the earlier foreclosure, downtown property formerly home to The Ware House hotel and bars sold for $1 million last Thursday after several months in default.

Sale of the property also appears to settle a suit filed in federal court against the site’s developers in April, just weeks before Hamilton’s death. In it, Pacifica sought more than $8 million in loan repayments from Hamilton, the firm’s attorney Bill Bost and Clinton-based investor Rajendra Patel. Filings this month show the matter resolved without further court action.

Much was planned on space surrounding the hotel, including a Ruby Tuesday’s next to the hotel and additional strip malls. Maintenance on Tate Family Cemetery, shrouded by grass and brush until development started on the hotel, was supposed to fall to Hamilton’s development company. The lot was cleaned of most of the brush around the graves and eyed for some type of green space development, possibly a park with benches.

Attorney Bill Bost Jr., counsel for the defunct firm, appeared alongside Mark Hamilton at the sale and reiterated agreements made between Hamilton and relatives of people buried there died with Hamilton. Bost has said title searches haven’t turned up any documents establishing the grounds as a cemetery, despite its evident use in the decades preceding the construction of Interstate 20.

Vicksburg and Warren County agreed to participate in a tax increment financing arrangement to pay for infrastructure bonds to finance roads and drainage in the development. In a TIF, projected hikes in property value are pledged toward repaying the bonds. Owners pay full property taxes on properties, but for a fixed period of time — in this case, 10 years — the money goes not to general funds but to repay the bonds.

In 2008, Warren County pledged 50 percent of the real property taxes it would collect. Vicksburg pledged 100 percent and agreed to be the main collector of the bonds, up to $1 million. The arrangement remains in effect despite Wednesday’s foreclosure, though no money has been borrowed since the first $485,000 pledged just before the hotel opened.


Contact Danny Barrett Jr. at