Development Woes Boil Over for MBC Holdings' Bruce Burrow

Commercial development travails recently prompted Bruce Burrow to file for Chapter 11 reorganization of debts listed at between $50 million and $100 million.

It's unclear what effect, if any, his money troubles will have on MBC Holdings Worldwide LLC of Jonesboro, which does business as MBC Holdings.

His company is ranked as the sixth-largest commercial property management firm in Arkansas, with a portfolio of more than 1.5 million SF. (Click here for the complete list. A spreadsheet version is also available.)

Among the lenders unable to come to terms with Burrow is Focus Bank of Charleston, Mo., which operates three full-service branches in Jonesboro and two in Paragould.

The bank obtained a nearly $3 million foreclosure decree against the Burrow Family Trust and Bruce and Sharon Burrow.

That foreclosure judgment was certified by the Craighead County Circuit Clerk on July 12, and Burrow filed for bankruptcy protection on July 30.

The debt, stemming from a 2008 loan, is secured by 29.2 acres of undeveloped commercial land at the southwest corner of Paula Drive and West Parker Road, which parallels U.S. 63 in Jonesboro.

Burrow lists the value of the property at $3.8 million and the Focus Bank claim at $2.7 million in his bankruptcy petition.

Burrow has portrayed the Chapter 11 filing as a defensive response to pressure from some of his creditors. Unable to negotiate a restructuring of debt with all of his lenders, he made the bankruptcy move to buy more time in hopes of reworking his financial affairs.

The bankruptcy petition lists 14 lenders among his creditors.

In an Aug. 7 email sent to compatriots, Burrow noted:

"I have been making good progress to unwind these problems, but my Chapter 11 decision was made for me when I couldn't get a couple banks to give me a forbearance (without a huge fee) to buy enough time to close on sales of properties under contract which, by the way, will close by year end. This will make a huge difference in reducing the debt."

WHB LLC (now known as Burrow Halsey Holdings LLC) and Jerry Halsey Jr. and his wife, Cheri, originally were listed as defendants in the foreclosure action by Focus. Halsey said he had had no stake in the property since he and Burrow parted ways as partners in 2009 and that his liability on the Focus debt was squared away. "We have already taken care of that," said Halsey.

His NAI Halsey Commercial Real Estate Service Worldwide ranks as the 18th-largest commercial property management firm in the state with a 733,000-SF portfolio.

Halsey is listed among Burrow's creditors as is MBC Holdings.

More Space

The firms on this year's list manage a combined 42.3 million SF. That represents 1.8 million SF more than the 2011 total.

A sizable piece of that (more than 1.1 million SF) can be attributed to the inclusion of a company that wasn't part of last year's list: Capital Properties LLC of Little Rock.

Taking that variable into account, commercial property managers as a whole gained 722,479 SF in new business in a year-over-year comparison.

Of the 24 firms that made the 2011 and 2012 lists, 11 reported one-year gains of space under management, seven indicated no change and six recorded a loss of SF.

The running order of the six largest commercial property management firms didn't change from last year.

The Arkansas operations of Colliers International posted the biggest year-over-year gain in the size of its management portfolio: 528,000 SF.

Colliers topped the list with a total of nearly 11.7 million SF.

Six other companies reporting six-digit increases. The roster includes: The Ashley Co. of North Little Rock, R.H. Ghan Property Management of Fort Smith, Grubb & Ellis Solomon Partners of North Little Rock, Schickel Development Co. of Little Rock, NAI Halsey Commercial Real Estate Service Worldwide and Management Realty of Fayetteville.