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500 lots go in foreclosure sale

The Citrus Springs parcels sell for $201,000 at an auction Thursday.

By CATHERINE E. SHOICHET
Published October 20, 2006


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After defaulting on mortgage payments, a Miami developer lost more than 500 vacant lots of Citrus Springs property in a land auction Thursday.

With the wave of a paddle and a bid of $201,000, two lending companies sealed the deal on the purchase. The land, mostly zoned for single-family homes, is in the northwest corner of the sprawling community in northern Citrus County.

The purchase came less than a month after Circuit Judge Carol A. Falvey ordered Citrus Development Venture LLC and registered agent Natalia Wolf to pay $6.62-million the company owed to Kennedy Funding Inc. and Anglo-American Financial LLC.

According to a foreclosure suit the lending companies filed in June, the Miami developer defaulted on a mortgage by failing to make payments starting May 1.

Falvey's order said the mortgaged property - just west of Deltona Boulevard and north of Gardenia Drive - would be auctioned off if Citrus Development Venture didn't pay up.

Thursday's sale marks the third time the property - valued at $6.7-million by the Citrus County Property Appraiser this year - has changed hands in less than two years.

According to official records on file with the county, Citrus Development Venture bought the property for $10.75-million from American Financial LLC on June 28, 2005.

Two weeks earlier, American Financial shelled out $6-million for the land from Citony Development Corp. That company had owned the property since 1992, when it bought the land from Deltona Corp. for $6.3-million.

Wolf could not be reached for comment Thursday. Corporate records on file with the state provide few details about Citrus Development Venture.

The records list American Financial LLC of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., Sky Development Group LLC of Miami Beach and Aaron C. Miller of North Miami Beach as partners in the company.

According to the Citrus County Property Appraiser, Sky Development still owns nearly 500 parcels in Citrus Springs. Billboards promoting the developer have popped up around the county. The company's Web site lists hundreds of available properties.

Earlier this month, according to official records, the Miami developer sold more than 120 lots to Orlando's Montikea LLC for $1.29-million.

Property values in Citrus Springs have soared in recent years. And purchases of large tracts by big developers also have increased.

Citrus Springs saw the highest increase in taxable value this year, according to Property Appraiser Melanie Hensley. Property values there increased more than 95 percent from $521-million in 2004 to $1.02-billion in 2005. Lots worth $3,000 in 2004 were worth an average of $12,500 in 2005.

That, county officials say, is because the area in northern Citrus County is unique.

Deltona Corp. created Citrus Springs in 1974. The plans, approved by the state, call for 33,775 lots on 15,334 acres. The platted single-family home lots are vested, which means developers don't have to seek the zoning changes or comprehensive plan amendments that often slow down larger projects.

Times staff writer Jim Ross contributed to this article. Catherine E. Shoichet can be reached at cshoichet@sptimes.com or 860-7309.

[Last modified October 19, 2006, 22:31:16]


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