Paul Liberatore

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A Vancouver-based real estate developer has stepped forward to acquire the unfinished Wyndansea resort in Ucluelet, a pending deal that proposes to repay a long list of creditors a small fraction of funds owed from the bankrupt project.

In a report made for the Supreme Court of British Columbia last week, bankruptcy trustee Ernst Young announced that the Onni Group has been selected to take over the 360-acre property next to Long Beach. With offices in major cities across North America, Onni brings a track record of building over 6,000 homes in the last decade.

"The Onni Group is a large development company with a proven record of delivering large-scale property developments," stated Ernst Young's report. "The Onni Group has the skill set and financial wherewithal to restore confidence and provide much needed stability to the Wyndansea development." The need for confidence and stability could

be seen as an understatement for Wyndansea's 178 creditors, collectively owed nearly $110 million in unpaid dues. The long list includes nine Port Alberni companies that were involved in the project since it began almost a decade ago, including Ace Flagging, Harry Adair, B. Berry Enterprises, Braker Electric, Dolan's Concrete, Haulmor Sand Gravel, J. Robbins Construction, McLean Higgins, and PM Contracting. These local investors face a combined loss of over $1.3 million, with individual dues ranging from $2,108 to almost $629,000.

As part of the development's pending restructuring plan, many creditors can expect to receive two per cent of the amount owed. Those owed less than $1,500 are expected to get up to 99 per cent of what's due, while larger outstanding dues could get up to $25,000 under a percentage payment formula tied to the amounts owing.

Back in 2006 Wyndansea was pitched as an "eco-luxury global hotel," with designs for two hotels, 410 single family homes and 160 other residential units - plus an 18-hole golf course designed by sports legend Jack Nicklaus. The resort's developer Elke Loof-Koehler brought experience launching the 64 Rainforest Estates and the 100-acre Beach Estates in Ucluelet, as well as bringing the Tauca Lea condominiums to the west coast community with a restaurant and spa.

But since Vancouver Island real estate values dropped during the economic downturn of 2008 the Wyndansea has struggled to progress. In 2009 the development was put on the market for $37 million; by April last year this price had dropped to $7.95 million.

The acquisition of the stalled Wyndansea project is contingent on at least 50 per cent of the development's 178 creditors voting in favour of the deal. This approval must include at least two thirds of the nearly $110 million owed.

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