Site headed for foreclosure

Lenoir City property was to house Market at Town Creek

By Josh Flory

A 267-acre Lenoir City property is apparently headed into foreclosure, but the city’s mayor doesn’t necessarily see that as a negative turn for a project that had already stalled.

According to a notice in the News-Herald newspaper, the property on Highway 321, near Interstate 75, is scheduled to be sold at the Loudon County Courthouse on June 23, at 1 p.m. The land was supposed to be home to the Market at Town Creek, a development that at one time was slated to include a new Lowe’s.

According to the notice, Tetra Investment Group 26 LLC had acquired the property from MZEE LLC, and assumed a loan in the original amount of $15.45 million, made by Tennessee Farmers Life Insurance Co. The notice indicates that Tetra subsequently executed a loan in the original amount of $9.7 million, as well as “equity conversion notes,” and that the debt is now in default.

Dan Batey, a spokesman for Farm Bureau Insurance of Tennessee — which is related to the lender on the project — said real estate is a small portion of the life insurance company’s investment portfolio, and indicated that one of the other investors on the Lenoir City project ran into some difficulty.

As for the project’s future, Batey said that “I suppose they’re still looking for a buyer for it in hopes that the economy will get better and boom times will come.”

The property in question is undeveloped. Lenoir City Mayor Matt Brookshire said the front 55 acres at the site — including a new Food City grocery store and a Five Guys Burgers and Fries restaurant — is a separate project under different ownership.

Brookshire said he met with a representative of the investors last week, who said Tetra would no longer be in the picture. According to its website, the Tetra Companies is a development firm that has offices in Virginia and Mississippi, and its executive team includes former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Irvin.

As for the foreclosure, Brookshire said that “I don’t think it’s going to slow down anything because at this point there was nothing really happing anyway, and Tetra had already decided that they weren’t going to invest any more time into the project with the current economic situation. If it goes into, whether it’s new ownership or it’s in the hands of developers … some activity could come from that.”