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Auction of Los Alamos land parcels posted

March 20, 2001|By RUDY YNIGUEZ, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — Two owners of land in the Gateway of the Americas project area are in default on loans and notices that the affected parcels will be sold at public auction in two weeks were posted Friday morning.

Notices also were sent erroneously to property and businesses in the Mexport Business Center.

The land affected is owned by Los Alamos Land Co. and Pan American Development Co. LLC.

The notices, by La Jolla-based Action Foreclosure Services Inc., on behalf of La Jolla-based La Jolla Loans Inc., state the landowners are in default on more than $11.37 million, plus interest.

Los Alamos principal Thomas Nassif could not be reached for comment. In recent interviews and a court appearance, however, Nassif has said Los Alamos has zero revenues and $22 million in debts.

Part of Los Alamos' debt includes $8.36 million in so-called Mello-Roos bonds used for the financing of infrastructure work at the site. The proceeds of the 1999 bonds are to be used to finance the acquisition and construction of certain water, sewer, drainage and road-related facilities necessary to meet increased demands placed on the county as a result of the development of the Gateway project and the pipelining and relocation of a portion of the South Alamo Canal.

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In August 2000, the county Board of Supervisors approved a special tax levy for the "community" facilities in the Gateway area. The tax is intended to repay the bonds. The tax rate varies by parcel, of which there are 51.

Underlying the issue is that the bonds are guaranteed by the county.

County Executive Officer Ann Capela said whoever buys the properties will take over the payments, adding that there were three years of fund reserves included in the bond sale, intended to protect the bond holders.

"My sense of it is, whoever takes over will jump into the project," Capela said, adding the notice of the pending sale of the lands is unfortunate. "I was hoping this would not happen."

Other Gateway landowners were equally disappointed.

"I wish Los Alamos the best because we want to keep the project going," said John Pierre Menvielle.

Tom DuBose, manager of El Centro-based Development Design & Engineering LLC, speaking for Gateway landowners Joseph, Edward and Tony Menvielle and Eric and Pauline Rice, said he's unsure if the sale of Los Alamos' land will have an effect on ongoing projects.

"My guess is it probably won't have any effect, but I'm not sure," he said. "It's an unfortunate black eye on the project."

DuBose said the notices against Los Alamos could adversely affect the other landowners and their efforts to develop the area. He said his clients have been and continue to be current in all their financial dealings related to Gateway.

Meanwhile, one landowner has expressed anger that his company's parcels were included in those to be sold.

Regan Tully, general partner of Pacific Rim Distribution Center LLC, which owns the Mexport Business Center, said despite three weeks of discussions with Action Foreclosure, the parcels were listed anyway.

"We are absolutely livid about it," Tully said. "We spoke with (Action) and they won't even apologize for their mistake."

Action might be trying to clear up the problem. When contacted about the issue Monday, a woman answering the telephone requested that certain parcel numbers be removed from any legal advertisement this newspaper might be running. When informed that she had mistaken the purpose of the call, which was to discuss the notices for this article, she said she could not discuss the issue.

With no action by Los Alamos, the sale would be at 3 p.m. April 4 at the main entrance to the Imperial County Courthouse, 939 Main St., in El Centro.

Staff Writer Rudy Yniguez can be reached at 337-3440.

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