Monday, January 24, 2005

Who owns Watermark?

This question was raised at the Planning Board hearing last Thursday (1/20). It was asked almost as an afterthought, incidental to the main points raised by Bob Goldman in his presentation to the Board. He was asking the Board to request names of individuals, in addition to the corporate entities whose names are associated with the project. Jim Hendrick, the applicant's attorney, responded that all legal requirements for disclosure have been met and that the Board has no authority to demand any thing more than the law requires. He's may right about that. Developers frequently use such incorporations to manage the relationships among the participants in their projects. I suppose that they do so for a variety of legal and financial purposes.

Nevertheless, the request and Mr. Hendrick's response to it piqued my curiosity, so I did a little research. Here's my attempt to explain it all.

The developer of record for the project is Caroline Street Partners. In Florida, corporate entities, whether public or private, are required to register in order to conduct business in the state. Searching for Caroline Street Partners at the Division of Corporations' web site yields some information:

Caroline Street Partners

Caroline Street Partners
210 So. Parsons Ave., Suite 12
Brandon, FL 33511

Registered Agent:
Feldman, Koenig & Highsmith, P.A. Timothy Koenig
3158 Northside Drive Robert Feldman
Key West, FL 33040 Robert E. Highsmith

Manager/Member:
Cortex Acquisition Group
210 So. Parsons Ave., Suite 12
Brandon, FL 33810


Feldman, Koenig & Highsmith, P.A. is a Key West law firm. They appear as Registered Agent for 16 corporations, LLC's, and partnerships. Tim Koenig individually also represents another 33 companies as R.A.

Seeing this, I wondered who Cortex Acquisition Group might be. I gather that they are the legal "owners" of Caroline Street Partners. So another search finds:

Cortex Acquisition Group, LLC
210 So. Parsons Ave., Suite 12
Brandon, FL 33511

Registered Agent:
Koenig, Timothy J.
3158 Northside Drive
Key West, FL 33040

Manager/Member:
Parker Investments, Inc
3908 Ryalwood Court
Valrico, FL 33594

Atwell Holdings, Inc.
2209 Longleaf Circle
Lakeland, FL 33810


Now we have two new players: Parker Investments, Inc. and Atwell Holdings, Inc. They are principals of Cortex Acquisition Group, LLC. I also see that there are two other Cortex companies in the mix:


Cortex Equity Partners, LLC
210 So. Parsons Ave., Suite 12
Brandon, FL 33511

Registered Agent:
Koenig, Timothy J.
3158 Northside Drive
Key West, FL 33040

Member:
Cortex Acquisition Group, LLC
210 So. Parsons Ave., Suite 12
Brandon, FL 33511


Cortex Development Group
210 So. Parsons Ave., Suite 12
Brandon, FL 33511

Registered Agent:
Feldman, Koenig & Highsmith, P.A.
3158 Northside Drive
Key West, FL 33040

Member:
Cortex Acquisition Group, LLC
210 So. Parsons Ave., Suite 12
Brandon, FL 33511


This looks like some kind of interlocked ownership arrangement. Cortex Acquisitions, owned or controlled by Parker Investments and Atwell Holdings, is a partner in Caroline Street Partners, and is the controlling entity for Cortex Equity Partners and Cortex Development Group. What we can now know about is that two of the principals involved in Watermark, along with Koenig as agent are Derek Parker, principal of Parker Investments, and Everett Atwell, principal of Atwell Investments.


Parker Investments, Inc.
3908 Ryalwood Court
Valrico, FL 33594

Registered Agent:
Derek Parker
3908 Ryalwood Court
Valrico, FL 33594

Officer/Director:
Derek Parker
3908 Ryalwood Court
Valrico, FL 33594

and

Atwell Holdings
210 So. Parsons Ave., Suite 12
Brandon, FL 33566

Registered Agent:
Derek Parker
3908 Ryalwood Court
Valrico, FL 33594

Officer/Director:
Everett Atwell
2209 Longleaf Circle
Lakeland, FL 33810


Now, I wonder, who are these two?

A Google search reveals that a Derek Parker (FAIA, RIBA, FACHA) is Chairman of Anshen + Allen, an international architectural firm with offices in Baltimore; London; Los Angeles; Manchester, England; Salt Lake City, San Francisco, and Seattle.

I also find this on Google:

World Sailfish Championsip"
As a real estate developer in the luxury private residence market, we are constantly in search of cost effective avenues that provide us direct access to the ultra affluent. Sponsoring the World Sailfish Championship proved to be an excellent marketing vehicle. After some preliminary contact, we invited a qualified group of prospects to the tournament and sold 32 units totaling $68,000,000."
Everett Atwell
Director, Cortex Companies

So, it looks like we have a little more than two "local boys" trying to make good here.

Now I don't mean to suggest that there's anything wrong or underhanded in any of this. Developers develop. That's what they do. We're also talking big money on Watermark, and money follows money. $16-18 million for a piece of the historic waterfront, plus development and construction costs, for a potential yield of $50-60-70 million, and perhaps an ongoing management contract for the condominium, for the transient rentals, and for on-site services like the health spa and other amenities. It could add up, couldn't it?

What is of particular interest to me is the apparent reluctance of the partners to back off from the design they chose (and claim they were asked by the City to produce). Hendrick said during the Planning Board meeting that the Watermark design is entirely consistent with its neighborhood, especially that part of it that consists or consisted of warehouses and other large buidlings that were once prominent in the Historic District. If I were a potential investor in one of the units of Watermark (not in a million years), I doubt that I'd be interested in living in a building designed to resemble a warehouse, or a fish processing plant.

But that's me.

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