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.