Friday, March 25, 2011


It is still early but there have been some reports that the Lake Lawn deal is going through.   Walworth County Today just posted this on their website...

"A group of local investors this afternoon bought Lake Lawn Resort for $9.5 million, city of Delavan officials said.

The group, lead by former Geneva National President Jim Drescher, expects to close on the deal within 30 days. Drescher has been negotiating with the bank for two weeks after raising $12 million for the project."
Nothing is done until every last paper is signed but it would appear that Lake Lawn is going to be open for business this summer.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Are there the "Little Four" or are there more?

When we first posted the message from Jim Drescher about the purchase and the follow up message which held the title of "The Little Four" we were lead to believe that their were four dissenting views in the group of 13 banks that held the notes on the property.  Well in an article published to day by the GazetteXtra held and interesting quote from the Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations of Anchor Bank.
"A majority vote is necessary to approve an offer."
 So 4 votes out of 19 does not sound like a majority to me.  What gives?

Can the Feds help?

One of the underlying factors for many banks in this country is an obligation to the Federal Government to repay the TARP funds that they borrowed.  Many banks have returned the funds but many others have missed payments.  One of those banks is Anchor Bank.  With a balance of almost $10 million dollars in missed dividend and interest payments on $110 million in TARP funds, they have a member of the U.S. Treasury sitting in on board meetings according to the Business Journal in Milwaukee.
"At least one Treasury representative attended the two most recent board meetings of Madison-based Anchor BanCorp. Anchor missed seven payments totaling $9.9 million and received $110 million in TARP funds."
One could presume that this has not gone unnoticed by some at the Treasury Department.  So chalk up another group that has been given the transparency to the 13 banks that Anchor Bank represents, and may also know who the "Little Four" are.

Update on offers to Anchor Bank Update: And other mentions in the news

Reported last night by Walworth County Today...
"the investors first offered $8.4 million for Lake Lawn Resort, then upped it to $9.3 million"
So there sits the banks or as I like to call them "The Little Four" waiting for more money.  Well there it was.  Wonder if anyone can figure out who all the banks are... 

There is an update scheduled  for later today (after 4pm) by the Gazette's Ann Marie Ames.

This is also starting to get attention at a more regional level.  The Business Journal in Milwaukee quoted Mayor Mel Nieuwenhuis saying
“There’s a lot of support out there for this to happen because we’re running out of time,” 
So the clock is ticking.  The question is do "The Little Four" feel any of this pressure? The chances are low since they may not even be located in or do any other lending with business in our area.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

"Meeting on Thursday" or " Who are the Little Four"

While I am not sure who has called the meeting in Delavan (maybe the city) this is the latest on Jim's attempt to save Lake Lawn Lodge. It sounds like some of the banks in the deal are using their leverage to minimize their losses.  Nothing against that but some transparency in this issue might make people change their minds. And remember if you want to go to the meeting do it with the intent of, as Jim said, "helping make Thursdays meeting a positive success", leave your torches and pitchforks at home.

In case you are not aware they are holding a special meeting at 7:30pm Thursday at Delavan City Hall. This meeting was called to discuss the fate of Lake Lawn Lodge. I had put together a group of investors to purchase the resort. While I believe we had put together an offer based on a price that the lead bank said they would accept. We were turned down because all 13 banks involved could not come to agreement. The purpose of the meeting, in my mind, is to discuss the flaw in the system that will prevent any offer from being accepted in the future.

These 13 banks are represented by Anchor Bank. To date we have identified only three other banks out of the other 12 involved. We believe that all of these banks signed an agreement where they let Anchor Bank represent their interests in exchange for keeping their names out of news and the right for each of them to have an equal vote on the sale. In other words any one bank, on its own, can hold up the sale. We have been told that our offer was approved by 9 banks and rejected by 4. They never countered our offer but simply said they could not agree.

The problem as I see it is these banks would rather hide in the cover that Anchor Banks provides rather than deal in the light of day. To them it’s all about the money and little about doing the right thing for this community since most of the banks don't even do business in this area. We have asked Anchor many times for the list of their partners in this foreclosure action but still have not received anything.

The BIG question is - Are we going to let 4 banks alter the future of Walworth County without giving anyone a reason. We need to create a platform where future offers can be discussed in an open forum where the banks, in the light of day, can go on record if they agree or disagree and the reasons why. We have heard that the banks that are owed the most are in favor of the deal while the banks that are owed the least are against it. Sounds to me as if the little guys are trying to get more from the big guys. Meanwhile Lake Lawn goes down the toilet.

Time is not on our side. The banks said that they will not hire anyone to maintain the golf course. That means that within the next 3 months, without proper maintenance, the golf course will turn into another Hillmoor. If that happens you will have to start over and spend millions rebuilding the golf course and the earliest you would have a course to play on would be midsummer in 2013. Without a golf course you lose a major reason people would want to come to the resort. The golf course is the tip of the iceberg we see above water .If it goes, the total collapse of the entire resort is not far behind. Then like some developers want, it will be sold off in pieces.

This is not about my group buying it. In fact we were told in a very around about way that if we brought any public pressure to this sale. That they would make sure we were not the buyers. I guess (like my Mother used to always tell me) I don't listen very well.

Let’s not have the beauty of Lake Lawn taken away from people that don't have our best interests at heart.
Some things are worth fighting for and I believe this is one of them.

I appreciate your support. Please feel free to forward this email to anyone you believe would be interested in helping make Thursdays meeting a positive success.

A Call for Help

This is a re-post of an e-mail that was sent out by Jim Drescher last week. We need to help this group (since I am not aware of another) that will help save this property from becoming a blight on our community.  They are trying to move before the golf course goes to seed and the property starts to deteriorate from lack of use.  Not to mention the lost tax dollars from the property remaining dormant.  Please read the e-mail excerpt below and if you can spread the word to family, friend officials anyone...

Thank You for helping me get the word out to the City of Delavan, Town of Delavan and Walworth County elected officials of our intent to try and purchase Lake Lawn Lodge. Though it has taken awhile I have put together a group of local investors that all share my belief that we need to get people their jobs back and restore this wonderful resort so it is around for many years to come. It is with sadness for this entire area that I tell you that it appears some of the 13 banks are holding out and not willing to go along with the deal for what I believe is their own selfish reasons.

Before we wrote the offer the bank said they would accept a certain price provided it was a cash offer with no contingencies and a 30 day close. On Mon of this week we gave them our offer which met all of their requests. We had given them 48 hrs for approval and yesterday they called and said that they needed until 5pm tonight (Thur.) to get the rest of the banks to sign off. Right around 5pm Sal Dimiceli, from Lake Geneva Area Realty received a email from Patrick Wright from Anchor Bank (they are the lead bank) saying that he could not meet our time frame because he could not get all the banks to agree. On a personal level I am very disappointed.

As you know my heart beats to a different drum. I see things that need to be done and find a way to get them done. I have taken a lot of pride in helping many charitable organizations in Walworth County raise money so they can continue their outstanding work. When I saw people starving in our county and the local city pantries unable to serve their needs I started, and continue to fund, my own food pantry which serves all of Walworth County. You give me a task or a need to fill and I will move mountains to get it done.

Now that mountain is the banks that are preventing this deal from getting done and I need you and our elected officials to help get this mountain moved. The banks caused this problem with their careless lending practices and this community paid dearly for it, and now instead of helping you they are only concerned about themselves. How long are we going to all tolerate this?

I would like to give you a little insight in to what we had planned for the resort. These are just my thoughts so they are in no particular order;

1) Restore people’s jobs and their dignity. They have paid a huge price for everyone else’s mistakes.

2) We are cash buyers. There will be no debt or liens on the entire property. The past several owners have been highly leveraged which contributed to their downfall. When we open the resort we will start with about 4 million in debt free operating capital. This capital will be used to make all the necessary repairs and fund operations until we can turn a profit in 2013.

3) I am a team builder. I want both the County and the City as my partners. I cannot do this alone.  I am willing to be at every monthly meeting, both county and City, and give a report of what we are doing and answer any questions. We have to pool our talents and resources to put this wonderful place back on the map. Lakeland School was a huge success because the County and Geneva National joined forces to make a wonderful thing happen. I stood before that County board and make commitments that I delivered on. I look at Lake Lawn as our next great partnership together. Financials will never be a problem because I will always keep everyone updated on our financial health.

4) I have not only put together a team of committed, caring investors. I have teamed up with the management of Geneva National and Gage Marine. Kevin Paluch from GN will provide the management for both the golf course and hotel/banquet operations. Bill Gage and his staff will reopen the marina and will be the leasing agent for all boat slips.

5) Talk is cheap. That is why I offer my history of what I have already done in Walworth County as proof of my ability to deliver on my promises.

6) I have been very blessed and could have retired and done nothing years ago. This project will require all my attention for the next several years. This will disrupt the plans I have made in the future. I am willing to put this aside in order to focus all my attention on making Lake Lawn Lodge successful.

7) What is the economic impact to this community every day that the resort is closed? Panera and Culvers already know how much the resort closure has cost them. I see firsthand at our food pantry what this has done to our friends and neighbors.

8) Jobs, Jobs, Jobs, Jobs!!!!!!!!!

I am concerned about what this is doing to our community. If they cannot agree with this offer when will they agree? In 3 months you will have a golf course with grass over a foot high. At that time the cost to fix that problem will be in the millions of dollars. What will the local governments lose in room tax and what businesses might close because of the loss of guests at the resort?

We all take responsibility for what we do. Why should the banks be any different? Let’s make them accountable to help fix the problem their poor judgment created. When did this become what the banks want? The banks not agreeing to the plan believe they carry the big stick. I believe you stop a bully by showing him you have a much bigger stick. We need to have all our elected officials including our Governor start to call them out by name and ask them in public why they are not doing the deal. This all needs to be played out in the public arena. When do we say enough is enough?