Plaza concept dies hard

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Real estate: Judge throws out Los Alamos Plaza bankruptcy

The fence around the property at 2201 Trinity Dr. has been taken down.

The Los Alamos Lodge, situated in the back of the property, now sits vacant. The door to the front desk of the lodge is bolted shut and there is a note on the window stating it is no longer in business.

All guests of the lodge were asked to vacate the premises at the beginning of the month after First Judicial District Judge Barbara Vigil threw out Los Alamos Plaza’s LLC bankruptcy filing on the property Oct. 31.

Realtor Denise Lane, who is marketing the property said, “The Special Master then issued a deed to the investment group that originally foreclosed on the property on Nov 1.  The investment group, Los Alamos Investors LLC now has the property listed for sale at $3 million.

“The hotel ceased operation on Nov 5. The property is currently being winterized. We are working to contribute all of the furniture in the hotel to various shelters in Northern New Mexico.”

Plaintiffs Los Alamos Investors LLC consisted of George Ordal, John Ordal trustees for the Pulmonary Consultants PC 401(K) Plan, David L. Ordal, Jackson Street, LLC; David Cantu, Ken Longley, Christel Longley, Michael Andrews, Susan Andrews, Joy Ordal, David Ordal, Verona Apartments LLC, Stuart Walker, Robert Spick, Katherine Wade and Lornty Capital, LLC.

Vigil ruled that the order setting aside default judgment previously entered will be vacated and the default judgment and summary judgment against Candles Delight, was reinstated. She also ruled the plaintiffs would receive all rents received from the property.

During the drawn out back and forth battle that left the prime 3.9 acre parcel of land essentially in limbo since 2008, it came to light that Hildegard Merrill, of Candles Delight, LLC, and one of the principals in the Los Alamos Plaza development project, had a history punctuated by lawsuits and accusations of dubious business practices.

Merrill earned her California real estate license in 1967 and her broker’s license in 1981. Her broker’s license was revoked by the California Department of Real Estate in 1996 for several violations: unlawful employment or payment of compensation, improper trust fund handling, failure to provide mortgage loan disclosure statements, failure to keep proper trust fund records, inadequate separate trust fund beneficiary records, failure to reconcile trust account and trust account withdrawals by unauthorized or unbonded person.

Other similar incidents in Merrill’s background caused the California Department of Real Estate to deny reinstatement of her real estate license on at least two attempts.

Los Alamos Plaza Principal Daniel Zerfas said at the time that Merrill told him she had retired her license.

Regardless, Los Alamos Plaza developers did have big plans for the property. But their financial problems have been well documented.

The proposed development was slated for the prime parcel on Trinity Drive just across from Ashley Pond.
It was to include three 60,000-square-foot structures with retail space on the ground floor, two floors of office space and 14 luxury penthouses on the top floor.

A fourth unit was to feature 21 townhouses overlooking Los Alamos Canyon. The entire project was projected to encompass approximately 135,000-square-feet of office and retail space with 63 residential units.

Los Alamos Plaza had until Feb. 29 to repay a group of 16 creditors who had filed for foreclosure against the corporation. On Feb. 29, Los Alamos Plaza Managing Partner Daniel Zerfas filed for bankruptcy on behalf of the company.

The creditors filed for foreclosure and judgment against Los Alamos Plaza, LLC and managing member Candles Delight, LLC in October 2010. On Aug. 19, 2011, a summary judgment and decree of foreclosure awarded the judgment to the plaintiffs.

The plaintiffs bid $1,258,226.66 for the property — the amounts owed to them — in a foreclosure sale on Sept. 26, 2011 and were awarded the bid.

Candles Delight, LLC, sued to have the judgment set aside, on the grounds that notice had not been properly served and that the name of one of the plaintiffs had been left off the court filings.

A stipulated settlement between the parties was reached on Jan. 5, 2012. An amended pleading reinstated the plaintiff that had been left off the legal documents, and Los Alamos Plaza, LLC was given until Feb. 29 to repay the debt.