Rarity Pointe auction latest in series

Golf development on Tellico Lake to be sold July 1

By Josh Flory knoxnews.com

Another Rarity property may soon change hands at an East Tennessee courthouse.

A July 1 foreclosure auction has been scheduled for Rarity Pointe, a golf development located along Tellico Lake in Lenoir City.

Knoxville attorney Lewis Howard Jr. said last week that an LLC he represents had purchased the project's debt from SunTrust Bank. Howard said approximately 294 lots have been sold over the years and that the auction includes 204 lots that were not sold, an 18-hole golf course and a "discovery center" that includes meeting rooms and a kitchen. Two spec homes are also scheduled for auction.

Howard said the property is well-maintained and added in a follow up email that "if my client ends up with the property after the foreclosure sale, the project would continue to be developed and maintained as a first-class residential development."

Howard said his client is Wind-River Investments LLC. He declined to identify his client but described the individual behind that LLC as a local resident.

The land for Rarity Pointe, which is near U.S. Highway 321, was initially acquired by Knoxville real estate investors Ward Whelchel and Robert Stooksbury, who formed Tellico Landing LLC along with other investors. Rarity Companies chief Mike Ross has said that group approached him in 2001 and asked for his help and expertise.

Additional land was acquired from TVA, and Ross and the Tellico Landing partners struck an ownership deal, but the two sides later had a falling out. Stooksbury sued a Ross-owned entity in Blount Chancery Court and sued Ross in U.S. District Court. The Blount County suit, filed in 2009, said the Ross-owned entity had a 50 percent interest in Tellico Landing LLC, while Whelchel and Stooksbury each had a 25 percent interest.

Ross could not be reached for comment.

Wayne Ritchie, an attorney for Stooksbury, said both lawsuits are ongoing. In an email statement, Ritchie said Ross has been in control of Rarity Pointe and that "foreclosure should be a positive step for the property owners."

Rarity was once a leading developer of upscale residential communities in East Tennessee, but the company has been battered by the real estate slump.

In recent weeks, Rarity's former Maryville headquarters building and a large, unfinished golf community in Campbell County were taken by GreenBank after being foreclosed.

The Rarity Pointe auction is scheduled for 10 a.m. on July 1, at the Loudon County Courthouse.