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At a May 15 meeting, Punta Gorda City Council unanimously denied the request of Fishermen’s Village representatives to extend the deadline to market and sell the property. 

The request was for an extension to November 2026, but the amended acquisition expires Aug. 22, 2024. 

Written into the amended acquisition agreement between property owner Jonathan Larmore, who defaulted on the mortgage, and the city is a clause in which Punta Gorda could take steps to have the property transferred back to the city if planned improvements were not completed by the deadline. 

A reverter clause refers to the right of the grantor to possess property in the future if a certain condition isn’t met. 

Larmore, CEO of Arizona-based Arciterra Companies LLC, entered into the agreement with the city to make certain improvements to the property within five years, including construction of the parking lot adjacent to Fishermen’s Village. 

He purchased the property for a reported $8.1 million in 2012, but afterward, he had personal and professional troubles, and he filed for bankruptcy for his various holdings, including Fishermen’s Village.  

Larmore was hit with a restraining order in a $35 million fraud case in December 2023, and in March 2024, he was charged by feds for stock fraud. 

The property was put in receivership, and local attorney A. Jill McCrory has been communicating with the city’s attorney, David Levin, and City Manager Greg Murray, on behalf of the receiverJeffrey Kolessar of PGFL Associates LLC and realty firm SVN Commercial Partners, who have begun a process to market the property for sale. 

Kolessar appeared before Council along with Ashley Bloom of SVN Commercial Partners and said his firm was appointed in October 2023, and he brought in SVN. 

Bloom cited wording from the agreement: “Said timing shall be extended for a commercially reasonable period in the event that an act of God, act of war, or financial and economic conditions will not allow for the construction to commence or be substantially completed …” 

“I think we all can agree the global pandemic Covid and Hurricane Ian are acts of God,” he said. 

Bloom said because of the events, the project could not move forward as planned as the events disrupted the supply chain and caused social distancing, which slowed the project and prevented it from moving forward. 

“Is it an act of God or the stupidity of man that caused Covid, because we really don’t know for sure. The second thing I contend is that I think the delay was caused by Larmore’s fraudulent actions that caused this delay, not Covid, not material shortages, council member Bill Dryburgh said. 

“I don’t see any reason why today we don’t enact that reverter clause and get that property back under our control, he said. 

Attorney David Levin asked Bloom whether building permits were submitted, and Bloom said that while plans were made for the project, no permits were pulled. 

“So, without building permits, materials shortages, labor shortages that may have been caused by the pandemic are not really relevant to our consideration,” Levin said. 

Bloom countered, then changed direction and said the reason why the city should allow the extension is because the receiver and SVN have nothing to do with Larmore and would be willing to work with the city and prospective buyer to assure a new development would be “mindful” of the city’s character and what residents want. 

Mayor Lynne Matthews said, “Mr. Larmore had a long amount of time in this now nine-year period of time when he could have gone forward with a plan.” 

She said his original plan he presented to her was reasonable, but then he submitted a plan to the city that included 118-foot-tall buildings and was told to come back with another plan. 

“He’s had nine years and we’ve had hundreds of residential homes built since then,” Matthews said. We’ve had hundreds of commercial buildings that have been built since then in our city, and nobody else ever had a problem getting a building plan submitted, getting the plans submitted and approved, getting construction done, and getting contractors to finish those projects.” 

Levin said in his opinion, “the city sold the property under market value,” and he said the reverter clause was put in the acquisition agreement to prevent Larmore from flipping the property after the city approved his plans. 

“Now the day of reckoning has come where those things that the City Council adopted for its protection, now need to be acted on in a way that protect the city as initially contemplated, Levin said. 

After Council voted to deny an extension of the agreement, Levin told Bloom and Kolessar that the “clearest way to resolve this is for the receiver to purchase those reverted clause properties.” 

Bloom said that has been considered, and Matthews said they have until Aug. 22 to discuss the issue with the city manager. 

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