Three subcontractors working on the construction of the new Rob Doll Nissan dealership in North Columbus forced the holding company that owns the property into U.S. Bankruptcy Court Monday.
The filing stops a planned foreclosure sale of the store and 14 acres of property at the intersection of Whittlesey Road and Whitesville Road. Nissan Motor Acceptance Corp is seeking payment from RWD Real Estate LLC of $9 million for the property under construction at 1725 Whittlesey Road. The public sale was scheduled for Tuesday morning on the steps of the Columbus Government Center.
Lott Sheet Metal Inc., Columbus Flooring & More Inc., and Turner Plumbing, Heating and A/C filed a Chapter 7 involuntary bankruptcy action against RWD Real Estate LLC, which is owned by Robert W. Doll.
The three companies claim they are owed more than $400,000 for work on the building. Construction was halted May 1 as the result of a financial dispute between Doll and Nissan Motor Acceptance Corp.
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“Under virtually any negotiated settlement, the creditors would have to get paid except for foreclosure,” said Wesley J. Boyer, the Macon attorney representing the subcontractors. “That is why we wanted to stop it.”
RWD Real Estate is represented by Columbus attorney Fife Whiteside.
“This is against the real estate company,” Whiteside said. “And it is involuntary. The creditors filed to evoke the jurisdiction of the bankruptcy court to get the debts paid and prevent the sale from occurring.”
A Nissan Motor Acceptance spokesman confirmed the foreclosure sale was on hold.
“There are a number of companies involved here, of course,” said Fred Standish. “This is one real estate thing that is in federal Bankruptcy Court so that has stopped all foreclosure things going on.”
Turner Plumbing Heating & A/C is owed $177,786.55; Lott Sheet Metal is owed $133,000; and Columbus Flooring & More is owed $90,746.12, according to the bankruptcy filing.
Involuntary bankruptcy filings are rare, Boyer said. He has been involved in “four or five” in his 25-year career.
The property includes two parcels of land totaling nearly 14 acres. RWD Real Estate LLC is controlled by Doll, who has been exploring a limited liability partnership on the property where the new store is located. Doll bought the land for $4.5 million in 2007. He calls it “the most valuable piece of property in Muscogee County.” It is located between two of the city’s most popular shopping and dining hubs — the Bradley Park Drive area and Columbus Park Crossing.
Construction on the nearly 50,000 square foot facility started in June 2008.
Columbus-based Phillips Construction had been the general contractor on the $6.8 million facility. Construction was stopped because the contractor had not been paid since March, owner Larry Phillips said.
Work on the building is about 90 percent complete, and site work — including landscaping and paving — is about 60 percent done. It should take about six weeks to finish the job once construction resumes, Phillips said.
Phillips Construction was not a party to lawsuit “at this time,” Boyer said.
Doll owns two car dealerships, the Nissan store on Box Road in Columbus and the Cadillac, Pontiac and Buick store in Americus. Both stores have their new-car inventory financed by Nissan Motor Acceptance Corp, the same company that is financing the construction of the Whittlesey Road show that is in foreclosure. The two dealerships are still in operation.
Nissan Motor Acceptance cut off Doll’s floor-plan financing at both locations in April. His inventory of new cars has dwindled to a total of 40 cars combined at both stores. Doll and Nissan Motor Acceptance have been in talks trying to reach an agreement, both parties have confirmed.
Doll has also been talking with local dealers about possible partnerships that would help him salvage his business.
“The discussions are ongoing with Nissan,” Whiteside said. “I know they have been back and forth today and I believe they will continue. It is possible that the case could be dismissed if the creditors are satisfied or it could be converted to Chapter 11 to file a plan to satisfy the creditors.”
Staff writer Tony Adams contributed to this report.