BB&T suing builder for $5.7M

Action against Saddlebrook over subdivision financing

By Josh Flory
One of Knoxville's largest homebuilders is facing a multimillion-dollar lawsuit from a lender, in connection with financing for a pair of subdivisions.

Last week, BB&T sued Saddlebrook Homes, company president Robert Mohney and other defendants in Knox County Chancery Court, asking for a judgment of nearly $5.7 million.

The suit focuses on financing allegedly provided for a pair of subdivisions in Loudon County. It alleges that more than $2.6 million is owed on a loan for the purchase of some 75 lots in Tennessee National, a waterfront golf community, and that more than $900,000 is owed on a line of credit to build homes on those lots.

The suit alleges that more than $1.5 million is owed on a loan to buy 34 acres in the Sweetwater Creek subdivision and an additional 11 acres, and that nearly $464,000 is owed on a line of credit to build homes on the residential lots.

The suit alleges that financing was provided to an entity called B&J Enterprises and to Saddlebrook Inc., but that Saddlebrook, guaranteed B&J's obligations. The suit also alleges that Mohney guaranteed the obligations of B&J and Saddlebrook.

Mohney could not be reached for comment on Friday or Monday.

Saddlebrook has been one of Knoxville's largest homebuilders, but the residential construction industry has slumped during the economic downturn. In 2007, Mohney told the News Sentinel that rumors about a possible bankruptcy at his company weren't true, and that Saddlebrook was on track to sell more homes in 2007 than in 2006.

Tennessee National made a big splash several years ago by merging one of golf's big names with that of a prominent Tennessee developer - the project was a team effort from Medallist Developments, which included golfer Greg Norman's Great White Shark Enterprises, and Chattanooga developer John Thornton's Thunder Enterprises.

Like many luxury developments, though, Tennessee National has been affected by the down economy, with recent incentives at the project including discounts on homes or a free golf cart on certain purchases.

In 2008, Thornton's firm gave up its equity stake in the project as part of a deal in which it got several lots and some undeveloped property in return. The developer subsequently launched a promotion in which it offered those lots at what it advertised as "less than half the price of previously sold comparable lots."