Demand, OREO Sales Power Commercial Market Gains in Rogers

by George Waldon  on Monday, Oct. 7, 2013 12:00 am  

PrivateBank got shed of 39 acres of undeveloped commercial property in Rogers in recent transactions totaling $6 million.

Chad Hatfield purchased 28.4 acres at the northwest corner of Champions Drive and Northgate Road for $3.4 million. Hatfield, a local boy turned Wal-Mart vendor, accomplished the acquisition through Hatfield Whalen Land LLC.

A Little Rock investment group led by Stephen LaFrance Jr. and his brother Jason bought 10.6 acres at the southeast corner of Champions Drive and Pauline Whitaker Parkway for $2.6 million.

The change of ownership has drawn talk of office development on both properties, but the investors haven’t announced their intentions yet.

In January, PrivateBank started its Rogers OREO liquidation with a $1.3 million sale to the world’s largest retailing chain. The 3.1 acre property was transformed into a fueling operation for the adjoining Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market.

All of this land was part of the April 2011 bankruptcy of Pinnacle Hills West LLC, led by Bill Schwyhart and Robert Thornton.

Before rolling onto PrivateBank’s balance sheet two years ago, the three parcels were linked with more than $19.7 million in Pinnacle Hills West debt.

The combined sales of the Schwyhart-Thornton land represent an OREO write-down from $14.35 per SF to $5.32 for PrivateBank.

More market-driven write-downs are waiting in the wings.

The commercial OREO sell-off in Benton County was jump-started in March 2012 with a series of transactions by affiliates of Bank of America. Commercial developer Joe Whisenhunt bought 375 acres of improved, undeveloped land along the I-540 corridor for $19 million cash.

The property was associated with bad loans totaling $80 million to three northwest Arkansas development groups led by Schwyhart, Charles Reaves and Gary Brandon.

“As we continue to see the OREO property removed, we’re seeing more activity,” said Johnny Kincaid, chief operating officer at Little Rock’s Whisenhunt Investments.



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