A proposed housing development at Naples — located along the Gaviota Coast — could potentially be scrapped this week when the property is put up for public auction.
Matt Osgood, an Orange County developer who has been attempting to build over 70 high-end homes on the beachfront property since he bought the land in 1998, defaulted on millions of dollars worth of debt on the property, prompting his bank to call for a public auction of the land this Thursday. Osgood, however, has claimed that his finances are in order and that the property will not go up for auction.
John Vogel, a real estate broker for Osgood, said his debts had been settled and the auction canceled.
“We have been in contact with Mr. Osgood this morning, and he said that everything is back on track and financing has been taken care of.”
According to the Naples Coalition, a nonprofit group dedicated to preserving the rural nature of the Gaviota Coast, Osgood’s development defaulted on a $63 million loan from First Bank last December when it failed to make a $3.1 million payment.
Opponents of the development responded with skepticism to news that Osgood’s financial issues had been settled. Nathan Alley, an attorney for the Environmental Defense Center, said as of Monday the public auction of Osgood’s land had not been cancelled despite Osgood’s announcement.
“From what I understand, he will not actually pay off any of his debt yet, just finalize the structure of his payment plan,” Alley said. “If it were to go to a public auction, we would certainly do our best to find an investor who is more willing to work with the community and not construct 71 mansions.”
Naples Coalition President Greg Helms, likewise, said he could not confirm that Osgood’s debts had been settled.
“He did tell Noozhawk that he did work out the problem, but we do not have any confirmation from anyone other than Osgood on the debt repayments,” Helms said. “What we do know is that he is running into extreme financial problems on paying his debts of tens of millions of dollars.”
Osgood’s development plans go back to 1998, when he first bought 3,200 acres at Naples. In the 12 years since, Osgood has navigated the state’s and county’s legal systems in the hopes of winning approval for his housing project, which would see 71 estate-sized homes built on the coast property. However, The Santa Barbara Ranch Project, as it is known, has faced several setbacks, ranging from county land-use laws to financial issues to public dissatisfaction with his plans.
The project met a significant hurdle in 2005, after a real estate credit crisis put Osgood’s development plans in debt.
Osgood’s financial issues continued well after 2005, however. According to the Naples Coalition, the Santa Barbara Ranch now owes $63 million to First Bank, along with $18 million to Avalon Capital.