Ucluelet’s Wyndansea goes bankrupt

Nine Alberni companies that supported the seaside luxury resort development now owed more than $1 million

The recent bankruptcy of a partially completed golf resort in Ucluelet has left nine Port Alberni companies on the hook for over $1.3 million in owed fees.

On Dec. 17 the Wyndansea Development Corporation filed for bankruptcy, leaving 178 unsecured creditors from across North America and England wondering if any of the $101.7 million in debt will ever be repaid.

At one time the development proposed to bring a luxury golf resort to 360 acres of ocean-side property in Ucluelet, including plans for 180 suites, 95 beach villas and a course designed by golf legend Jack Nicklaus.

But after the project was announced in 2006 Wyndansea suffered a series of setbacks, especially the economic downturn of 2008. Wyndansea's developer Elke Loof-Koehler is included in the list of unsecured creditors she supplied to bankruptcy trustee Ernst Young last month, citing $2.2 million in owed funds from the stalled development.

Among the list of Port Alberni's creditors is PM Contracting, owed $371,643. This company is no longer in business, according to the Alberni Valley Chamber of Commerce. Haulmor Sand and Gravel, which is owed $628,468, also has an out-of-service telephone number and is not listed with the local chamber, although it could not be confirmed if the business is still operating. Other local companies listed as Wyndansea's creditors include Braker Electric, owed $215,486; Dolan's Concrete, $73,411; J. Robbins Construction, $56,334; McLean and Higgins, $35,936; Ace Flagging, $21,100; B. Berry Enterprises, $16,932 and Harry Adair's, $2,108.

"We'll probably get a portion of it, but not all of it," said Mac Makenny of Dolan's Concrete about the amount owed to the local contractor. "Probably 10 to 12 cents on a dollar, maybe."

Dolan's Concrete finished doing gravel and concrete work on Wyndansea in 2008 or 2009, said Makenny. He believes if it wasn't for the economic collapse of 2008 or the

delays that followed the resort would have been completed.

"At one time [Loof-Koehler] had a set of plans for the hotel because we had quoted on the concrete work, and it was pretty close to being done," Makenny said. "But with the government and the bureaucracy and the steps that she had to take it just kept going on and on and on and people lose interest."

Silvia Wolff of McLean Higgins said the company installed plumbing on Wyndansea's units eight or nine years ago. McLean Higgins was paid for most of its work, although when the jobs were done it was clear a balance would remain outstanding, said Wolff.

"When we walked away when everything was done, we kind of knew we weren't going to be getting anything," she said. "I think we all did okay, of course throwing away that kind of money is not anything that anybody wants to do, it definitely cuts into your profit margin."

"I think that [Loof-Koehler] had probably good intentions of making sure that everybody was going to get paid but she didn't have the people behind her," added Makenny. "She would feed us a little bit of money and charge more than she fed us."

As the long list of Wyndansea's creditors await the results of bankruptcy proceedings, what was once touted by the developer as an "eco-luxury global hotel" sits partially completed on the shore of Vancouver Island's picturesque western coast.

In April the property was listed for $7.95 million, a fraction of the previously advertised $37-million price tag.

"It's a beautiful piece of property," said Makenny, adding that the development's delays could have caused investors to look elsewhere. "It's like going to buy a motorcycle, and if you can't get the motorcycle you want right away the novelty kind of wears off. The next thing you know you've bought a convertible."

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