An ill Floyd Watkins fights foreclosure
July 14, 2009
WOODY CREEK – Floyd Watkins is not only fighting for his Woody Creek ranch, he’s fighting for his life.
A longtime Woody Creek resident, the 72-year-old now finds himself battling terminal cancer while he clings to his ranch, which has been the subject of foreclosure proceedings by two local lenders that claim he has been in default for six months.
About five weeks ago Watkins filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Florida, further complicating a saga that Watkins said began last July when he was diagnosed with a form of small cell cancer. Watkins said he was given three months to two years to live at the time.
“Nobody has ever beat it,” he said of the disease.
So Watkins – fearful that his Beaver Run Ranch would get caught up in a probate battle after he dies – put his wife’s name on the title to the property.
He said he checked with Charles Israel, the owner of Rocky Mountain Equity Mortgage, which had given Watkins a $1.5 million line of credit in September 2006, to see if the move was OK.
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Watkins maintains that Israel, his friend of some 30 years, gave him permission. But in February he learned his property was being foreclosed on as a result of a clause in his loan contract that was triggered because he put his wife’s name on the title.
Israel said Watkins hasn’t made interest payments on the loan for the last six months so he had no choice but to foreclose.
“I gave him a $1.5 million line of credit to live off of until he sold the ranch,” Israel said.
The ranch, located at 6090 Woody Creek Road, has been listed on the market for the last several years at $29.9 million but is now being offered for less than half of that.
Foreclosure actions on the Beaver Run Ranch are currently on hold. On June 29, Rocky Mountain Equity Mortgage filed a notice that it had withdrawn foreclosure proceedings – two days before the ranch was scheduled to go to auction July 1.
And although the mortgage firm has withdrawn its foreclosure, Israel said he still plans to take possession of the ranch.
“We’re going to ask [the bankruptcy court] to give us the property and we’ll figure it out,” Israel said.
Then there’s Alpine Bank, which also has taken steps to foreclose on the ranch. Watkins said repeatedly last week that he has made arrangements with Alpine Bank so that it will not foreclose.
“Everything has been taken care of,” Watkins said. “It’s not going to go into a foreclosure sale.”
As of Monday, however, nothing had been filed in the public record to indicate that Alpine Bank was no longer pursuing foreclosure.
What’s not in dispute is that Watkins is millions of dollars in arrears to both Alpine Bank and Rocky Mountain Equity Mortgage.
An affidavit from Alpine Bank President Scott Gordon, which was introduced to the bankruptcy filing last week, said Watkins has been in default of two mortgages since December.
According to the original bankruptcy petition, Watkins’ two biggest creditors are Alpine Bank, which is owed $2,021,589, and Rocky Mountain Equity Mortgage, which is owed $1.55 million. However, bankruptcy papers filed Friday say the debt to Alpine Bank is $4,043,319.
Watkins’ bankruptcy filing lists his assets at between $10 million and $50 million. His liabilities are between $1 million and $10 million, according to court documents.
Watkins said he filed for bankruptcy because in September he lost three-fourths of his net worth in the stock market. He also said he had to file for bankruptcy protection to keep the ranch.
In the meantime, Watkins continues to try to sell the 45-acre ranch, which includes a 3,682-square-foot house. It’s currently listed for $14 million.
“I’ve had a number of offers on the property, including one for $11 million,” Watkins said, adding that he won’t budge on the $14 million listing price.
“If you don’t want it for $14 million, let’s not waste your time,” Watkins said. “I’m not dealing with bottom feeders.”
The Pitkin County Assessor lists the ranch’s “actual value” as $7,297,800, and its assessed value as $580,900.
Israel did not appear convinced that the property will be selling any time soon.
“There are literally billions of dollars in inventory on the market,” he said. “He’s not being realistic.”
Israel said it is unfortunate the situation has turned out the way it has.
“It is a mess, and it’s sad,” he said.