RV Re­sort moves on with­out Har­vey

Tampa Bay Times - - Front Page - BY SU­SAN TAY­LOR MARTIN Times Se­nior Cor­re­spon­dent

Guy Har­vey Out­post is no longer con­nected with an up­scale RV re­sort planned near Tar­pon Springs. The $35 mil­lion project, which had been named af­ter the artist whose col­or­ful ma­rine paint­ings are re­pro­duced on mil­lions of T-shirts, is still pro­ceed­ing.

Elite Re­sorts still plans to move for­ward with the $35M project near Tar­pon Springs.

HOL­I­DAY — A year ago this month, Guy Har­vey Out­post Re­sorts an­nounced plans for its first-ever RV park, near Tar­pon Springs where the An­clote River emp­ties into the Gulf of Mex­ico.

T h e $ 3 5 mi l l i o n r e s o r t , named af­ter the pop­u­lar Ja­maican ma­rine artist and con­ser­va­tion­ist, would in­clude lots start­ing at $150,000 and cot­tages at $250,000.

But the Guy Har­vey or­ga­ni­za­tion is no longer in­volved with the project. It ac­cused its for­mer part­ner, Elite Re­sorts, of act­ing in bad faith and de­manded it “de­stroy all ma­te­ri­als in cir­cu­la­tion” that in­clude any Guy Har­vey trade­marks.

None­the­less, Elite Re­sorts is pro­ceed­ing with plans for the park — now called An­clote River Re­sort by TradeWinds — even though a piece of the 67-acre site could be sold to sat­isfy a Ba­hamian bank’s $405,693 judg­ment against an Elite-re­lated com­pany. And the head of Elite Re­sorts, Ed­uard Mayer, has a $1.8 mil­lion judg­ment against him per­son­ally from the same bank.

“I was told that the project was go­ing to keep mov­ing for­ward,” said Pasco County Com­mis­sioner Kathryn Starkey, whose dis­trict in­cludes the site just north of the Pinel­las-Pasco county line. “There were some busi­ness deal­ings that were get­ting cleaned up or worked through. We don’t get into that; it’s a pri­vate de­vel­oper on a project.”

Mayer could not be reached for com­ment.

Guy Har­vey Out­post, which has re­sorts in St. Pete Beach, Cancun and sev­eral other lo­ca­tions, said last May that it chose the An­clote River area for its first RV re­sort as part of a move to ex­pand its brand into fresh­wa­ter and in­shore fish­ing.

The target buy­ers of the pricey lots and cot­tages would be col­lege-ed­u­cated, out­doorsy types who love to camp and fish, the com­pany said.

Part­ner­ing on the project were Elite Re­sorts and Mayer, who owns sev­eral RV parks through­out Florida. Two of his other com­pa­nies — Pasco Park LLC and Elite Re­sorts Man­agers — own sev­eral of the parcels where the new park would go.

In Novem­ber, Pasco com­mis­sion­ers helped move the project for­ward when they sought state ap­proval to amend the county’s land-use plan to change the zon­ing from res­i­den­tial to planned de­vel­op­ment.

But shortly be­fore Christ­mas, Guy Har­vey Out­post is­sued a lit­tle-no­ticed state­ment say­ing it had ter­mi­nated its con­nec­tion with Elite Re­sorts.

“Elite de­cided to forgo con­clud­ing the doc­u­ments of our re­la­tion­ship that we have been ne­go­ti­at­ing in good faith for over a year, and filed for ap­proval with­out our con­sent,” Mark Ellert, pres­i­dent of Guy Har­vey Out­post said at the time.

Ellert said Thurs­day that “there were a lot of is­sues” that had noth­ing to do with TradeWinds, which would man­age the RV park.

“They are our li­censee on St. Pete Beach. They do a fab­u­lous job,” he said of the Guy Har­vey Out­post/TradeWinds Is­land Re­sort. “Our is­sues were of the specifics of what was go­ing on with the in­di­vid­ual deal it­self.”

Un­til told by a reporter, Ellert said he did not know that FirstCaribbean In­ter­na­tional Bank of the Ba­hamas had ob­tained a judg­ment against one of Mayer’s com­pa­nies, Elite Re­sorts Man­agers. Nor did he know that the Pasco County Sher­iff ’s Of­fice had pub­lished a no­tice that it would sell one of the parcels mak­ing up the re­sort site to sat­isfy the judg­ment.

“That’s an­other ex­am­ple of some of the con­cerns we de­vel­oped,” Ellert said. “In hind­sight, we saved a lot of time on a project that might never ex­ist.”

The sher­iff ’s sale was set for Feb. 28. On Feb. 27, Elite filed a pe­ti­tion — with Mayer’s sig­na­ture — for bankruptcy pro­tec­tion, thereby block­ing the sale.

The bank wants the case thrown out, say­ing it was filed in bad faith af­ter Mayer made “her­culean efforts” to avoid pay­ing the judg­ment. The bankruptcy trustee han­dling the case has moved to have it dis­missed, which would al­low the sale of the par­cel to go ahead. A hear­ing set is for June 13.

The county com­mis­sion in Fe­bru­ary ap­proved the land-use change for the RV re­sort, although some other ap­provals are still needed, Starkey said. Pro­moted as “eco­tourism,” the park could have up to 350 lots, restau­rants, a store, Dis­cov­ery Cen­ter and bike paths and side­walks linked to the An­clote Coastal Trail and even­tu­ally the Pinel­las Trail.

“I would have loved for Guy Har­vey still to be as­so­ci­ated, but I heard it may be com­ing into my county in a dif­fer­ent way and a dif­fer­ent place,” Starkey said. “I think we’d get the best of both worlds.”

Christopher Pol­lock, a Guy Har­vey ex­ec­u­tive, said the com­pany re­mains “very in­ter­ested” in the Pinel­las-Pasco area, but he would not com­ment be­yond that.

Guy Har­vey Out­post Col­lec­tion

Renderings of the club­house and an RV cot­tage site of what was planned as the Guy Har­vey Out­post Club & Re­sort Tar­pon Springs. Guy Har­vey is no longer con­nected to the project.

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