The beleaguered development firm of Kettler & Scott has relinquished control of two more projects, these in Prince William County.
Robert Kettler, who heads Kettler & Scott, has turned over titles of the projects to American Security Bank, a subsidiary of MNC Financial Inc. A local real estate publication, citing county records, put the value of the transferred property at $53 million.
A bank spokeswoman, calling the deals a "friendly takeover," said they were deeds in lieu of foreclosure. Kettler will be paid a fee to develop the projects, she said. She could not say whether MNC had already reflected the foreclosures in its quarterly financial statements.
Construction is underway at Wellington, a 369-acre planned community in the city of Manassas that was projected to cost $400 million. The spokeswoman said the bank plans to continue the project to its conclusion.
Kettler agreed to finance a generous package of public improvements at Wellington that include the construction of four roads adjacent to and through the site, Manassas officials said. Construction on the roads has been stalled for several weeks but resumed again this week.
When completed, the development is slated to include 1,250 homes, a 58-acre commercial site and housing for the elderly. Manassas officials said 118 homes are currently occupied.
Construction has not yet begun at Westmarket, a 208-acre project about four miles west of the Manassas National Battlefield Park. Prince William County officials approved its rezoning last year that would permit construction of town houses and single-family homes, as well as buildings for office and light industrial use.
In recent weeks, Kettler, one of the largest developers in Northern Virginia, has turned over two huge projects in Loudoun and Fairfax counties to his lender, Chevy Chase Federal Savings Bank. Chevy Chase will pay Kettler a fee to develop the projects, the 3,000-acre Cascades, which is now underway, and the 3,000-acre Brambleton, which is still in the planning stages. Kettler has also pulled out of a deal with Washington Gas Light Co. to develop an 850-acre project in Prince George's County.
The decision by Chevy Chase and American Security to take over the projects and pay Kettler a fee to continue their development shows how times have changed in the real estate business. New lending limits have halted the practice of extending fresh loans to strong developers who have run into trouble in a weakened real estate market. Instead, lenders are taking over some projects, rather than forcing the sale of property.