Deed to Amberly transferred

Developer hands over ownership of Cary development to avoid foreclosure.

Staff WriterApril 22, 2011 

The developer behind Amberly, the 1,100-acre community in northwest Cary, has handed over the remaining sections of the project to a California firm that works with federal regulators to sell troubled assets.

L.M. Sandler & Sons of Virginia Beach, Va., transferred the deed to more than 1,000 acres to Milestone Asset Resolution Co. to avoid foreclosure, according to Wake County property records.

The transaction was valued at $19.2 million.

Sandler's lender on the portion of the project, Cleveland-based AmTrust Bank, collapsed in late 2009, and the assets were taken over by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Milestone works with the FDIC to dispose of assets.

Amberly is just the latest high-profile Triangle real estate development to run into trouble. Several condominium projects in Chapel Hill and Raleigh have had foreclosure proceedings started in recent weeks.

Amberly, which was conceived at a time when credit flowed freely to ambitious real estate developments, has been beset by financial problems since the housing bubble burst.

After the FDIC took over the AmTrust assets, it informed Cary officials that it wouldn't pay off $18 million in letters of credit that Sandler had given the town to pay for infrastructure in the project.

The town briefly placed a hold on issuing new building permits in some Amberly neighborhoods after Sandler stopped following through on its construction guarantees.

About 40 percent of Amberly is undeveloped, and nearly all the land has been caught up in the project's funding problems.

Plans for the project originally called for as many as 5,000 houses.

Sandler was one of the most active developers in the Triangle during the housing boom, and it has struggled since the market tumbled.

The company's local subsidiary, Wakefield Development of Raleigh, has been forced to slash costs as it struggles to pay for work performed at subdivisions in Cary, Raleigh and Holly Springs. Sandler officials couldn't be reached for comment late Thursday.

One of Sandler's other Triangle projects, the golf community 12 Oaks in Holly Springs, was taken over by a court-appointed receiver in 2009.

david.bracken@newsobserver.com or 919-829-4548

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