Print Mtn. Gate homeowners worry
Written by Staff Reporter   
Wednesday, 19 March 2008 12:13

Frustrated Empire Companies Mountain Gate homeowners met at the Clark Memorial Clubhouse in Clarkdale in early March to discuss what options they may have outside of the Empire-controlled homeowners association.

“It’s a little scary to wait and do nothing and see what happens,” said homeowner Robert Altherr, who helped organize the meeting with his brother, Larry Altherr.

“I was told there would be a clubhouse in March 2007, then March 2008 and now we know that won’t happen,” he told the homeowners.

One of the biggest issues discussed was the clubhouse or recreation center Empire promised prospective buyers.

“This should be a binding contract on Empire,” said Larry Altherr, whose family members purchased four homes in Mountain Gate.

“The biggest thing is I don’t want to lose what we’ve put into this already for facilities to be built,” Robert Altherr said.

Larry Altherr asked

homeowners to consider whether they should form a non-Empire controlled group and whether they should get their own attorney to answer questions.

Cottonwood attorney and Mountain Gate resident David Gordon spoke to the group but stressed it would be a conflict of interest for him to represent them.

Gordon said that although the community center was a big selling point for the development, there was no bond to ensure that it was built.

However, Gordon said there may have been a set aside letter and someone needs to find it.

“Who has it? The town of Clarkdale is looking for it. Everybody wants to see it,” Gordon said.

“Nothing will be done behind closed doors,” Gordon told the group about the future of Mountain Gate. “Whoever buys it knows the town has to approve any changes.”

Empire Companies has not informed the town of Clarkdale, Town Attorney Robert Pecharich, or Mountain Gate homeowners what it plans to do with the development it abandoned in late January.

Empire ceased work on all of its planned Arizona developments including developments in Flagstaff and Prescott Valley.

Gordon said bankruptcy isn’t an option Empire probably wants but it’s one it’ll have to decide upon before Indymac Bank forecloses on a $22 million loan and holds a trustee sale on unsold Empire property on Tuesday, April 29.

“This is an important date for Empire because this is a big breach in their agreement with the town of Clarkdale and they’d lose the right to proceed with this property after that,” Gordon said. “If they can stop it and cure it then they can continue the development.

“Bankruptcy isn’t a good thing for them,” Gordon explained to the group. “It’s a two- to three-year process. If they choose to reorganize, it just stretches their payments out. They’d lose a lot of control and the ability to work down that debt. They’d have a trustee looking over them so they’d lose a lot of control.”

Several homeowners expressed concern over developing a splinter HOA group. The Prescott-based Homeowners Association Management Company that controls the HOA has agreed to allow homeowners a three-person advisory committee.

Robert Altherr said he and his brother Larry were somewhat discouraged in their ability to form a cohesive new homeowner’s group with its own attorney to get answers and plan a course of action before the April 29 trustee sale.