After nearly two years of lawsuits and other assorted attorney-driven antics, it appears that the long-proposed development dreams for Naples may have a new owner, or at least someone eager to buy it. At Tuesday’s Santa Barbara County Supervisors meeting, folks from First Bank, the Missouri-based financial institute that assumed ownership of the storied Gaviota property after onetime development visionary Matt Osgood defaulted on his loans in the spring of 2010, introduced the supes to the people ready to write a very big check for Naples: a pension-fund investment firm from Boston by the name of CrossHarbor.
The discussion centered around whether or not the supervisors would approve a transfer of the inland portion of the development rights at Naples (still an issue of contention but technically approved in 2008) to CrossHarbor and its newly formed subsidiary earmarked specifically for the Naples project, CIP II. However, with the aforementioned lawsuits between Osgood and First Bank still pending, one of which includes specific debate about who exactly holds what when it comes to the various development rights, the board voted unanimously to continue the matter until after the lawsuits have their day in court later next month. As 2nd District Supervisor Janet Wolf put it, “How can you transfer something when you don’t know who you are transferring it from?”
The continuance was agreed to by representatives from First Bank and CrossHarbor but not without a certain amount of chagrin, especially from the Naples neophytes. Telling the supes that he found it “mind-boggling” that they wouldn’t approve the transfer this week, David Thurman, the project rep from BonDrak (an L.A.-based development firm pegged by CrossHarbor to potentially build the project), asked that his team be “treated a little bit more fairly” the next time they meet with the county. The matter is scheduled to return to the board on May 1.