Bank OREO Adds Up In Washington County

Bank OREO Adds Up In Washington County
Washington County properties still held as "other real estate owned" by publicly traded Arkansas banks include (from left) the All Star Sports Arena in Springdale, an 11,000-SF home on Lovers Lane in Fayetteville and six ranch-style condominiums and 82 lots in The Pines at Springwoods, also in Fayetteville.

The balance sheets of Washington County lenders still reflect the financial splatter from the bursting real estate bubble.

The OREO portfolios held by the four publicly traded banking concerns based in Arkansas are a mixed lot that typify the overall market in the Fayetteville area.

The roster of land, homes and buildings recovered from bad loans (known as Other Real Estate Owned) has shrunk for some and grown for others through acquisition.

Little Rock’s Bank of the Ozarks significantly pared its Washington County OREO holdings in a $2.58 million transaction. Seven months ago, the bank sold 110 lots in the Waterford Estates at Hissom Ranch project east of Fayetteville near Goshen.

That June sale to Waterford Estates LLC of Dallas liquidated its position in the upscale residential development off Highway 45.

During its four years in the ownership picture, Bank of the Ozarks sold 71 lots to homebuilders and individuals for a combined $3.5 million.

The bank recouped more than $6 million in total. That’s a tidy sum, but well short of the $12 million loaned against the project.

Bank of the Ozarks took the property as part of a June 2009 settlement with Gary Combs, the northwest Arkansas developer who died in 2012.

The bank also took ownership of several hundred lots in the Sundowner Ranch residential development in Prairie Grove in connection with the Combs settlement. The property once secured more than $8.4 million of debt and remains a sizable chunk of OREO for Bank of the Ozarks.

Combs and other borrowers associated with Washington County OREO represent a who’s who casualty list of developers. (Click here or see end of article).

Dealing With OREO

That approach to dealing with OREO in Washington County is no different than elsewhere for Simmons First National Corp.

“Our philosophy is pretty much the same everywhere,” said Craig Hunt, president of Simmons First National Bank of Pine Bluff. “We want to dispose of the property as soon as we can for a reasonable price. We have current appraisals and up-to-date information on all the properties we own and have them all listed for sale.

“We have reduced the price of some to move them. We’re trying to actively market everything we have got.”

Simmons First Bank of Northwest Arkansas of Rogers was the company’s lender in the Washington County market until Nov. 2, when its separate bank charter was consolidated into the flagship operation in Pine Bluff.

Simmons took on $67 million of new OREO when it acquired Little Rock’s Metropolitan National Bank with a winning bid of $53.6 million in a bankruptcy court auction. As of Nov. 25, Metropolitan’s OREO became Simmons’ OREO.

“We have transitioned all that property into Simmons First National Bank,” Hunt said. “We have a group that is actively working to manage and dispose of that property. When we acquired Metropolitan, we valued the property at what we could market it for at the time we made our acquisition. In some cases, that may be less than what Metropolitan had it on their books for. That may help us move it.”

Centennial Bank of Conway inherited much of its Washington County OREO.

When Home BancShares Inc. of Conway purchased the parent company of Jonesboro’s Liberty Bank of Arkansas, the deal came with $34.7 million worth of OREO.

That property was folded into Centennial Bank’s OREO portfolio.

Back in 2009, Gene Cauley’s Coco Mountain Ranch property in Fayetteville was tied to three Centennial Bank loans totaling more than $15 million.

The Coco Mountain property remains the single largest line item of Washing-ton County OREO for Centennial.

The new management at First Federal Bank of Harrison took an aggressive stance toward OREO pricing after the Bear State Financial recapitalization in 2011.

“We took a substantial write-down at the end of 2011 on a lot of that property in the Benton and Washington county markets,” said Tom Fritsche, executive vice president and chief lending officer at First Federal Bank. “It was about a $9 million write-down.

“That’s hard for some banks because it hits your bottom line immediately, but we decided to do it right after our recapitalization and go on our way.”

Slices of Washington County’s OREO Pie

Properties held by publicly traded Arkansas banks

(Click here to see an interactive map of the locations listed below. All locations on map approximate.)

Simmons First Bank of Northwest Arkansas, Rogers
(Charter collapsed into Simmons First National Bank of Pine Bluff on Nov. 2)

• The 130,000-SF All Star Sports Arena, a 5.95-acre development at 1906 Cambridge St. in Springdale. Recovered from David and Connie Harris and Richard and Linda Harris at a $2.2 million foreclosure sale in April 2013.

• 44.5 acres a mile east of Fayetteville on the east side of Gulley Road. Recovered from John Nock, Brandon Barber and James Massey at a $1.1 million foreclosure sale in May 2010.

• 23.5 acres at the southeast corner of Highway 112 and Deane Solomon Road in west Fayetteville, 19 lots in the second phase of the Oakbrooke residential development in west Fayetteville and three residential lots in the third phase of the Clear Creek residential development in Johnson. Forfeited in July 2010 by Family Jewels LLC, led by Tracy Hoskins.

• 40 lots and 18.1 acres in The Knolls residential development in Goshen. Recovered from Lonnie and Kathe Graham and their Knollwood Development Corp. at a $1.3 million foreclosure sale in January 2010.

Metropolitan National Bank, Little Rock
(Purchased for $53.6 million on Nov. 25 by Simmons First National Corp.
and collapsed into Simmons First National Bank of Pine Bluff)

• 159 acres at the northeast corner of Butterfield Coach and Guy Terry roads in south Springdale. Recovered from Tom Terminella and Myron Morter and their Grand Valley Ridge LLC at a $4.1 million foreclosure sale in March 2009.

• 163 acres near the southeast corner of Campbell Road and Napier Drive in Greenland. Forfeited in June 2009 by Greenland Hills Development LLC, led by Jeffrey Mathis and Edward Davis IV.

• 24.5 acres at the south end of Zion Drive and 16.5 acres at the northwest corner of Weir and Rupple roads in west Fayetteville. Recovered from John David Lindsey as part of a $1.2 million foreclosure sale in August 2010.

• Three townhomes and 47 lots in the Woodbury development in east Fayetteville. The townhomes were forfeited in February 2010 by Mike Philip and John Martin, and the lots were recovered from Philip and Martin at a $1.6 million foreclosure sale in April 2010.

• Three hangars at the Springdale Airport. Recovered from Pinnacle Air Facilities LLC, led by Bill Schwyhart and Robert Thornton, at a $1.5 million foreclosure sale in July 2010.

• 13 acres near the northeast corner of Joyce Boulevard and Vantage Drive in east Fayetteville. Forfeited in lieu of foreclosure in June 2008 by Bellafont Land LLC, led by Brandon Barber.

• 3.6 acres at the southeast corner of Nettleship Street and Cross Drive, near the west edge of the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville campus. Forfeited in June 2010 by Markham Hill Development LLC, led by Robert Merry-Ship, Richard Alexander and John Nock.

• An 11,000-SF home in east Fayetteville once owned by Bob Gaddy. The 7.6-acre spread was recovered from Gary Combs at a $1 million foreclosure sale in May 2010.

Bank of the Ozarks, Little Rock
• 328 lots in the Sundowner Ranch residential development in Prairie Grove. Forfeited in lieu of foreclosure by Gary Combs in June 2009.

• 26 lots in the Bethel Oaks residential development in Farmington. Forfeited in lieu of foreclosure by Canopy Meadows LLC, led by Damon Wright, Gregory Shipley, Neal Morrison and David Gean, in September 2011.

First Federal Bank, Harrison
• 59.9 acres between Broyles Road and Dinsmore Trail and 8.7 acres at the north end of Raven Lane in west Fayetteville. Recovered from Steve Morrison, Michael Campbell and Charles Sloan at a $1.5 million foreclosure sale in August 2010.

• 40 acres near the southwest corner of Wayne Sellers Road and 54th Avenue in Farmington and a 6,452-SF restaurant at 25 E. Center St. in downtown Fayetteville, home to Celi's True Mexican Cuisine. Recovered from John Nock and Hank Broyles at December 2010 foreclosure sales of $910,000 and $320,000.

• 79 acres between Crossover Road and Rockwood Trail in east Fayetteville. Recovered from Sequoyah Meadows LLC, led by the estate of Bob Gaddy, at a $2.2 million foreclosure sale in April 2010.

Centennial Bank, Conway

• 347.7 acres and 19 lots in the Mountain Ranch development in west Fayetteville.
Forfeited in lieu of foreclosure by Gene Cauley in March 2011.

Liberty Bank of Arkansas, Jonesboro
(Purchased for $320.1 million on Oct. 23 by the parent company of
Centennial Bank, Home BancShares Inc.)

• Six ranch-style condominiums and 82 lots in The Pines at Springwoods residential development in west Fayetteville. Recovered part of the project from Marley Development Co., led by Harry Marley, at a $1.7 million foreclosure sale in September 2009 and bought the rest for $1.2 million in April 2011 from Legacy National Bank of Springdale.

• 57 lots in the Paddock residential development in east Fayetteville.  Forfeited in July 2010 by Hometown Properties Ltd., led by Robert Schmitt.