Feb. 04 --Two large parcels of undeveloped land in Roseland , a stalled residential and commercial project in northwestern Chesterfield County , are now owned by the lienholder, Franklin Financial Corp. Henrico County -based Franklin Financial , the holding company for Franklin Federal Savings Bank , took ownership of the parcels -- 614 acres in all -- at an auction sale Monday. "Franklin Federal ended up buying both of the parcels that were auctioned," said George B. "Casey" Sowers III , manager of the family business that received zoning approval for Roseland in August 2008 within months of the U.S. financial crisis and meltdown of the credit markets. "There were other developers at the sale but nobody made a bid on either of the properties," he said, adding that Monday's auction sale was an important step in moving the project forward. The 1,288-acre project emerged from bankruptcy protection last fall. The Sowers family retained nearly 500 acres as part of the bankruptcy plan. The original development plan called for 5,600 housing units and 1.5 million square feet of commercial space near state Route 288 at Woolridge Road . The auction sale was expected and the resolution of the properties was needed to move the project forward, said Bruce E. Arkema with DuretteCrump PLC , which represents G.B.S. Holding Ltd. and Roseland Village LLC , the two Roseland entities that filed for bankruptcy protection in 2011. The two cases were consolidated. "We remain hopeful that we can get the cooperation of all of the creditors and landowners to bring in a single, unified zoning amendment plan to Chesterfield ," Sowers said. "We will have some discussions with the various interested parties in the near future and determine if that is, in fact, an option and move forward with either the entire project or our respective parts of the project accordingly," he said. Franklin Financial had liens on a 313-acre site owned by Roseland Village and a 301-acre site owned by G.B.S. Holding . It bought back the Roseland Village property for $11 million and the G.B.S . property at $2.5 million at the auction sale in a credit bid, meaning it did not come up with the actual cash but applied the amounts owed to the bank against the purchase price. Lynne Tickle , a senior vice president at Franklin Federal Savings Bank , said Monday that the properties will be owned by a banking subsidiary. She said a decision had not been made on what would be done with the parcels. "Typically, we evaluate and look at the best option for disposing of them," she said. The bankruptcy plan states that creditors could foreclose or receive deeds in lieu of foreclosure, Arkema said. However, a deed in lieu of foreclosure does not wipe out junior liens. " Roseland Village did not have junior liens, to our knowledge, but G.B.S . has an Essex Bank judgment lien," Arkema said. Community Bankers Trust Corp. , the Henrico -based holding company for Essex bank, has a lien on 62 acres. "We are looking at several options, one of which is foreclosure," said Rex L. Smith , president and CEO of the holding company and the bank. ___ (c)2014 the Richmond Times-Dispatch (Richmond, Va.) Visit the Richmond Times-Dispatch (Richmond, Va.) at www.timesdispatch.com Distributed by MCT Information Services
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