Prince William County officials estimate that it will take nearly $700,000 to complete roads and storm drainage systems in six developments constructed by financially troubled Battlefield Builders Inc.
The unfinished roads have been the source of the most concern to many homeowners in Battlefield developments, who say work the builder promised to finish a year ago or longer still has not been done. The developer so far has been unable to reach an agreement with its creditors that would allow the builder to finish the work.
Work has halted in virtually all of Battlefield's projects in Prince William and other Northern Virginia jurisdictions, according to attorneys involved in attempts to help the company and its creditors reach an agreement that will allow Battlefield to avoid bankruptcy. About 200 homes in Battlefield projects have not been completed.
The road and drainage construction in Prince William is covered by bonds and letters of credit, which the county can collect and use to complete the work, said Martin E. Crahan, director of the Department of Development Administration. The board of supervisors last week declared projects covered by three of the bonds in default, and the county will use proceeds of the bonds to finish the public facilities.
But county officials usually wait until they collect the cash from bonding companies before starting work on roads. They have not made a decision on when to begin the work if other Battlefield bonds or letters of credit are called, Crahan said. He said that if a bonding company contests the county's default declaration, as many do, getting the money can take a year or more.
Negotiations between attorneys for Battlefield and its more than 100 creditors began early last month, and are still in progress, attorneys said this week. Battlefield, which has been building homes in Northern Virginia for 10 years, owes about $25 million to its lenders, subcontractors and suppliers, a lawyer for the company said.
About $4 million in mechanic's liens already have been filed against Battlefield homes by suppliers and subcontractors, and more are expected, according to Ronald L. Walutes, an attorney hired by Battlefield. He said the company and its creditors have not agreed on how the liens would be paid off if the company continues building.
Some buyers who have signed contracts and paid deposits for Battlefield homes still under construction may be able to get their deposits back if the company defaults, Walutes said. Buyers with FHA and VA loans probably will be able to get deposits back, he said. Deposits paid on homes sold by Coldwell Banker, which has been selling Battlefield houses since late October, have been held in escrow by the realty company, according to a Coldwell Banker official.
But deposits paid directly to Battlefield were not escrowed, and buyers probably would not get their money back, Walutes said.
In another development, a foreclosure sale of 26 Battlefield homes Loudoun County scheduled for last week was canceled at the last minute when a Pennsylvania company, SKI Real Estate Inc., bought the loan from Suburban Savings and Loan Association, one of Battlefield's 10 lenders, according to an attorney involved in the negotiations. SKI is associated with Industrial Valley Bank, the former owner of District Realty Title Insurance Co., Battlefield's insurer.