By JAMES M. ODATO
In one of the biggest foreclosure actions in the history of the Adirondacks, the holders of the mortgage on the bulk of real estate acquired for the proposed Adirondack Club & Resort housing development seek to retake the property from the corporation that has failed to build the massive project.
The legal maneuver could lead to moving the dormant development forward, perhaps even clarifying the future of the shuttered Big Tupper Ski Area that has been planned as a feature of the resort project.
A group called Crossroads ADK LLC on Thursday sued Preserve Associates so that 5,800 acres at the edge of Tupper Lake can be sold at public auction, presumably to a group related to Crossroads ADK.
The land was sold by the Oval Wood Dish Liquidating Trust in May 2017 to Preserve Associates, one of the corporations created by partners Thomas C. Lawson and Michael D. Foxman to build a major housing resort.
Other entities created by the Foxman-led partners acquired a marina and Big Tupper as assets for the project they’ve envisioned for many years.
Preserve Associates, however, has failed to pay tens of millions of dollars in bills, including installments on the $5.15 million mortgage held by the Oval Wood Dish trust. After 15 months of nonpayment, and 10 percent default penalties, the trust is owed more than $5.75 million. It sold the mortgage in October to Crossroads ADK, new court records show.
Crossroads ADK revealed its ownership on Thursday when it also moved to foreclose on the owners of the acreage, stating that the Foxman group had failed to pay on the mortgage, neglected to maintain hazards insurance. It also said county property taxes have not been paid from 2017 to 2019.
Crossroads ADK also sued a pack of creditors of Preserve Associates, including law firms, landscape architects, engineers and a group called Crossroads Preserve LLC that has a lien of $2.28 million on the mortgage. That latter sum is some of the money Crossroads principal Stanley Hutton Rumbough put into the project for road construction, services and materials between August 2017 and February 2019, according to court records and interviews.
Crossroads ADK, created this October, and Crossroads Preserve LLC, created in October 2018, are backed by some of the same principals and is represented by the same lawyer, Simos C. Dimas, of Manhattan, state records show.
Dimas said Rumbough is associated with both Crossroads entities. His goal is to see the project brought to fruition using a third-party developer. “This is an attempt to save the project, not destroy it,” Dimas said.
The Rumbough group has been trying to negotiate purchase outright from Foxman, he said, and took the foreclosure option because of an impasse.
The foreclosure action was filed by Tupper Lake lawyer Daniel J. Hogan, who said he is unable to discuss the matter. It comes as Franklin County lists six properties controlled by the Preserve Associates group is delinquent on $286,000 in taxes.
Dimas said Crossroads Preserve has been studying the project for months after Rumbough invested millions of dollars on improvements to the project site and facilities. Dimas said the foreclosure action is a remedy to gain control of the property “so that work on the project can finally begin, and jobs can start to be created.” He said it is the group’s understanding that the existing state permits and authorizations would carry to the property’s new owners.
Nancy Hull Godshall, the successor trustee of the Oval Wood Dish trust, said her group is optimistic and encouraged by the latest developments. Oval Wood Dish for decades operated a substantial manufacturing operation in Tupper Lake, but the plant closed in 2008.
“Our family has long ties to this community, and we care deeply about the future of the Adirondack Club and Resort development and Tupper Lake region,” Godshall said. “The trust sold the mortgage with the community’s interests at heart, firmly believing the buyer has the incentive, capital and ability to move the project forward, and understanding that the buyer has already made very significant investments in the project.”
Rumbough, who owns property in the Tupper Lake area, has been funding much of the development on the site, including the costs of a new road through the woods to proposed housing sites, and on facilities at Big Tupper. He has long ties to the region and is the grandson of Marjorie Merriweather Post, former owner of the great camp, Camp Topridge, on Upper St. Regis Lake.
Rumbough is a philanthropist, photographer and veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps. He is a member of the advisory board of the Wild Center in Tupper Lake. Since 2014, he has served as chairman of HUTN Inc., a Springfield, Ohio-based financial firm, also known as E F Hutton. It ceased operations earlier this year as it deals with $12 million in debt and a foreclosure lawsuit filed against it by its mortgage lender, according to the Springfield News-Sun.
In an interview in October, Foxman said he did not have any agreement with Rumbough for his expenditures and mentioned Rumbough’s purchase of waterfront property near the resort project site.
“He certainly is interested in the project’s success because he is building there,” Foxman said, adding that he understands Lawson sold his personal camp to Rumbough. Foxman said he has been short of funds. Over the past year, he has proposed selling his interest, first to Lawson, and in recent months to Crossroads Preserve. Foxman and Lawson could not be reached for comment.
In January, an entity called Camp Pine Cove LLC paid Lawson $1,549,711 for 11 acres near the project site, public records show. The Dimas Law Firm was identified as representing that LLC.
The club and resort project has been hailed as a potential boon to the Tupper Lake Region. The village has described it in financial documents as a $500 million plan on 6,400 acres for up to 700 condos, vacation homes and luxury “great camps,” along with a 60-bedroom hotel. “The developers plan to revitalize an existing ski slope (Big Tupper), a golf course and a marina,” the village reported to the bond investors in 2017.
The project has hit snags and been reshaped a few times. Despite announcements about reopening Big Tupper, at least temporarily, the ski facility has remained closed.
Among the debts owed by Preserve Associates is $1.5 million owed lawyer Thomas A. Ulasewicz, who helped Foxman and Lawson get Adirondack Park Agency approval of the resort project as well as state permits and subdivision authorizations. He also worked on the successful defense of the project against environmental group litigation.
Keith Gorgas says
Good day for the very rich, bad day for us working class slobs in the Adirondacks
Hopefully, if it ever gets built, there will be a few more working-class slobs in the area.
Joan Grabe says
I cannot believe this incredible article ! After all these years you can equate the word “blessing “ and the ACR in the same sentence. Disaster is more the reality. Such shady individuals, people who sell an asset and then take back a mortgage, intertwined entities ( acronyms, no names) suing each other, pie in the sky ideas but no money, bankruptcies galore in all their backgrounds and a County and a town left holding the bag. And a less than robust housing market especially for high end condos and luxury homes. Sounds like anything but a blessing to me ! I love Tupper Lake, am in Shaheens, Farm to Table, Stewart’s and Well Dressed Foods frequently and am thrilled to the improvements to the main business center but I know a bad deal when I see one and this has been suspicious from the get go.
Timothy Dannenhoffer says
I’ve been hoping for years that this development would never happen. They want to do this development right on the western edge of the most significant wilderness area in the state of New York and the northeast in general. I believe it would change this specific area for the worse if it happens. I really hope it fails altogether or they limit the development much closer to the highway and town. I do wish opportunity for the people of Tupper Lake…just not like this. This area is a natural treasure. They should develop in a way that keeps the area as wild as possible. I’m looking forward to exploring the Follensby Pond area some time in the future – I’m sure it will be like heaven…please don’t put roads and housing developments at it’s doorstep.
Judson Witham says
I wonder why New York State can sue IJC for paying reimbursements for PRIVATE PROPERTY DAMAGES on Lake Ontario BUT Clifford and Anita Witham were wiped out repeatedly by New York State’s Dam on Lake George and were not given a Cent for all the damages caused by the DEC Dam at Ticonderoga ? The repeated and intense damage caused the Withams to be forced into forclosure and They lost everything.
Alexander Schwarz says
I hope this project finally moves forward. Will be fantastic for the region and a huge boost to tourism and the local economy.
Glad…. don’t need outsiders taking over!! Leave us alone.
John A. Hlavaty says
The people of Tupper Lake have suffered the promised employment opportunities and the increased economic activity long enough. While I feel for the original developers, it seems fairly obvious that their business plan lacked a mass of foreseeable and unforeseeable contingencies. Absence the cash to weather these contingencies, is the primary reason that developments, especially developments of this size,fail.
My hope is that the new principals have very deep pockets and top flight management, because an 5,800 acres development, within a protected state park, is similar to building mansions on an active mine field.
I wish both the developers and people of Tupper Lake the best of luck.
Couldn’t agree more. I have felt since inception that ACR was a great idea and would be an enormous boon to TL and surrounding area. From the beginning, Fox & Co. had great intentions, but the confidence felt by Tupper Lake, APA, and citizens in the area that the group would be able to carry out their plan to fruition was touch and go. Permitting issues and deadlines with APA dragged out the early planning/permitting process. Efforts by environmental groups to modify the plans and layout added to the slow progress and expense.
These delays were critical because the development group did not have enormously deep pockets. The critical component of their ability to eventually complete the development depended upon early sales of large lots to infuse cash into the project. This became problematic because of the above delays, changes in the post-Great Recession markets, and simple cold feet. The money didn’t pour in, pockets were empty, and creditors came calling.
At this stage, while a very unfortunate and disappointing outcome for the original developers, we may actually see an infusion of cash and confidence with the new owners. Hopefully they can put things back on track with renewed confidence, but there are no guarantees in life or real estate development. Many fingers are crossed.
Todd Eastman says
ACR was from the beginning,…
… “all hat and no horse…”
Very eloquent. Couldn’t have said it better.
One thing is so much better now — the road has been built and no economic development money was needed. Thank you Mr. Rumbough for not asking for handouts as Foxman planned to do. It is unfortunate the ski area is not open but I understand that some work has already been done up there. I would hope the ski area could be opened next year or very soon.
The original scope of the project seems to big … but everyone in tupper would like the mountain to be reopened and all assume someone will want to build new homes on the property. (why else would you need such a road?)
Should Foxman and Lawson be watched carefully to see if they benefit from Rumbough taking over the mortgage?