Schlitterbahn in Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Giving Partners Time

Schlitterbahn Riverpark and Resort Padre Island is in Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

Judge Craig Gargotta in the Western District of Texas ruled Tuesday morning in San Antonio to place the troubled park into reorganization and is set to appoint a trustee to oversee a reorganization plan which must be in place by December 4. If not, according to Gargotta’s ruling Axys Capital Credit which holds a lean against 270 acres surrounding the park will be allowed to foreclose on the property and sell it at auction on December 5. Axys had requested that the land be separated from an Involuntary Bankruptcy filing by companies owned by the Henry family, owners of Schlitterbahn waterparks so it could be sold immediately, that request was denied, but his decision to appoint a trustee was a move to push the partners, who have been at loggerheads for over a year, toward a resolution that will put the park on stable financial footing going forward.

Testimony at the four-day trial in San Antonio was that if Axys was allowed to foreclose on the land then the primary lender in the project IBC Bank could call a separate note for $28 million on the waterpark likely forcing it to close while new owners were sought. To avoid that outcome Gargotta gave the partners until the December 4 date to come up with a reorganization plan.

 At one point in the hearing in San Antonio, Gargotta asked Deborah Williamson, a lawyer for Gary Henry, if selling property would be the solution.

“At the end of the day, the only way this is going to work is if something is sold,” she answered. “And the park may be the one that is easier to sell. It may be easier to attract capital because it is an operating entity.”

The problems began when the builders of the park, Henry Brothers Construction, added on to the size of the building at the park from an original plan calling for less than thirty separate “treehouse” rooms to the current 92-room facility which increased the cost of the development from the original $28 million to over $58 million forcing the owners, Upper Padre Partners to raise an additional capital leading to the borrowing of $18 million from Axys using the land as collateral.

According to court filings from Axys attorneys, “Cash flow from the Debter (UPP) operations is insufficient to repay obligations on any reasonable, confirmable basis. The Henrys control the management of the Debtor’s general partner and, as a result, the Debtor. For all practical purposes, the Debtor has a dysfunctional management and is incapable of effective operations.”

Garotta’s solution was to appoint a trustee to work with the partners and find a long-term solution.

The trustee, yet to be named, along with the Henry family who own two-thirds of the park, and developer Paul Schexnailder whose company owns one-third, must now decide whether to sell some or all of the interest in the park and surrounding land or find an investor or lender to provide about an estimated $10 million to bring the park up to the original design specifications.

Schexnailder said after the hearing that while the park is an integral part of a 500 acre, 552 acre development it is not the main focus of the project.

“This is a project much bigger than just a waterpark,” he said. “The park is part of something much bigger and that project is continuing.”

He was referring to a planned 3600 foot Beach Walk development with retail and commercial elements which would connect the current canal system to Lake Padre and the Gulf of Mexico through the planned Water Exchange Bridge under SPID. The canals to each side of the bridge site are dug and bulkheads in place on the Lake Padre side. However, work to excavate the canal to connect with the existing canal near Cruiser Street near Whitecap was halted Wednesday by order of the City of Corpus Christi over permitting issues.

The Chapter 11 ruling is not expected to have an impact on park operations as plans call for the waterpark to close during the winter season, as it has in previous years, and re-open in the spring.

“The judge understood that this park is important to the future of The Island,” Schexnailder said, “and this ruling allows us to keep it operating as we look for a long term solution.”

Article from Dale Rankin – IslandMoon

Padre Island Planned Marina Development

Details of Planned Island Development
Restaurants, live music venue, retail, residential, marina under design
By Dale Rankin, Island Moon Newspaper
Island developer Paul Schexnailder spoke to the Island Strategic Action Committee on Tuesday and filled in details of his plans for Island development on the 104 acre site around Lake Padre including a Hilton Hotel, multi-family and single-family residential, a marine, and a restaurant and live music venue developed by Lulu properties which is owned by the Lucy Buffett, the sister of musician Jimmy Buffett.

The largest part of the current phase of development is on the 104 acres on the Lake Padre side of SPID where in recent months Schexnailder has moved, “almost one million acres of sand and created 10,000 feet of new bulkheads.” Those plans include:
· A 220 room Hilton Hotel including retail space and meeting facilities just north of the canal leading to the planned Park Road 22/SPID Water Exchange Bridge.
“That facility is currently under design,” Schexnailder said. “When the design is done we will permit the road to it and the utilities.

· Lulu’s campus, which will include a seafood restaurant, live music year round operated by Lulu’s properties, which is owned by Lucy Buffett, the sister of musician Jimmy Buffett. The company currently has similar facilities in Gulf Shores, Alabama; Destin, Florida; and a new development in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina set to open in the spring of 2018.
“This facility will be able to handle the biggest fishing tournaments on the Gulf Coast,” Schexnailder said. “The company is currently designing its new facility for Myrtle Beach that will open early next year and that plan will look like the one we will build here.”
It will also include a family oriented ropes course, a sand playground, children’s play area, and various other entertainment features, and a cluster of retail shops, Schexnailder said.

· A boat fueling station and boat supply shop located off an entrance from State Highway 361.
A Multi-family housing development just south of the canal leading to the Water Exchange Bridge which include townhouses.
· A marina located on the north end of Lake Padre with entrance from State Highway 361 will include a ship’s store and restaurant, separate from the Lulu’s operation.
· Residential development on the north end of Lake Padre near the entrance to Packery Channel.
“These will be high-end, residences with a view right down Packery Channel,” Schexnailder said. There will be 80-90 lots and a private marina.”

· Barefoot Dunes residential development along the beach south of Whitecap Boulevard.
“This will be a residential development much like Cinnamon Shore in Port Aransas,” he said.
On the west side of SPID, around the Schlitterbahn waterpark, the plans include:
· Island Walk Village and townhomes connected to the Lake Padre development by a canal leading under the Water Exchange Bridge. It will also include retail space.
· Completion of the 1600-foot long Beach Walk canal which will tie both sides of the development together through the Water Exchange Bridge.
Schexnailder also addressed the long-term prospects for development on The Island. He said that recently several potential hotel developers have been turned down by lenders who believe that the local hotel market is overbuilt.
“Our problem is not an overbuilt market,” he said. “Our problem is that there is not enough for people to do when they get here.”
He said that the Florida panhandle which includes 85 miles of continual development is served by 26 million people in six surrounding states.
“We have that many people in Texas alone,” he said. “We are in an undersupplied situation, not an oversupplied one.”
He said there are currently about 11,000 hotel rooms in Corpus Christi and to serve ten percent of the market requires an additional 1100 rooms on The Island.
“With Island development we can increase the number of people coming to this area by at least ten percent so we will not be drawing from the current visitor base but adding to it.” He also addressed questions about whether he will complete the canal and bulkhead work on the west side of SPID.
“Whether or not there is a Water Exchange Bridge I will build canals to both sides of the site,” Schexnailder said. “If I don’t the Army Corps of Engineers will take away the permit for the whole site.”
Currently the canals on both side of the proposed bridge site are in place but about 300 feet of the canal on the west side of the roadway still needs to be excavated in order to connect the new canal to the existing Island canal system. An agreement to facilitate that final stage of the work is currently under negotiations between the city and developers.