Fontenot represents the Buller family of Ville Platte, which owns the 177-acre tract near Acadian Hills Golf Course. The Bullers sued Couret Place Inc. for breach of contract in September but have not pursued the litigation because of Cal-Bay's interest in taking over the project.
"[Cal-Bay] had a deadline to do certain things, and they did not do those things," says Fontenot, who declined to discuss any financial details of the negotiations. However, a source close to the proposed deal says the Buller family was requesting a $100,000 good faith deposit, which Cal-Bay failed to produce.
Cal-Bay representatives did not respond to phone and e-mail requests seeking comment for this story.
In early December, Cal-Bay Vice President Bill Sickert told The Independent Weekly the company planned to purchase Couret Place Inc., pay the Buller family for the land and proceed with plans to develop the real estate project into a mixed-use, traditional neighborhood much like south Lafayette's River Ranch. Based on the Bullers' asking price and the debt that accumulated Â' a number of contractors who did work on the site are owed several thousand dollars each, one as much as $437,000 Â' it's estimated that Cal-Bay would have had to invest from $9 million to $12 million just to get into the project. Subsequent development costs would have drastically increased that initial investment.
On Jan. 18 Cal-Bay, a publicly traded real estate development group based in Carlsbad, Calif., announced that it had secured funding for what it called a $400 million "residential/commercial golf course development project" in Lafayette. The Buller family property is next to Acadian Hills Golf Course, but the course is not part of the deal. "It really upset me when I saw that in print," says Acadian Hills General Manager John Guilbeau. "We don't know those people."
But the major red flag raised by the announcement was that the Bullers, who still have title to the property, had yet to finalize the deal with Cal-Bay. In mid-January, Fontenot said the company had missed a deadline to respond to the Bullers' offer. "There is no deal with Cal-Bay," Fontenot now says.
Cal-Bay International is a "penny stock" that does not trade on a major exchange. As of late last week, Cal-Bay's stock price had dropped to 2 cents per share, and the company had a market value of $824,800. The stock is down 98 percent from a high of $1.10 in March 2006.
Other parties not related to Cal-Bay or Couret Place Inc. Â' it is widely speculated that John Royston or his partners brought the California company to the table ' have expressed interest in the property, and the Bullers want to sell the beautiful tract. The problem is that the property is now tied up in a legal quagmire of lawsuits and liens filed by local companies that did work on the site. An undetermined number of people also put money down on lots in the residential portion of the proposed development.
In their lawsuit, the Bullers say they were unaware that local contractors had begun working on the property because Couret Place Inc., led by John Royston, who over the years has had numerous financial disputes with local companies, was continually trying to renegotiate the deal, and the two parties had yet to come to an agreement. The Bullers claim Couret Place Inc. did not have the financial wherewithal to meet the original agreement and disguised a new revenue sharing program as a better deal for the family in order to delay payments.
When Couret Place began asking the Bullers for money to pay for the infrastructure, which the Bullers say was Couret Place's responsibility, a Buller family member went to the site June 29 and told the contractors to go home; the legal problems started soon after. "All along, Couret Place did not have and knew it did not have money to pay the contractors and engineers as per the agreements, but still went ahead and engaged the services of engineers and contractors on its own," the Bullers say in their suit.
Fontenot says Cal-Bay told him during earlier negotiations that it had purchased Couret Place Inc., which could add yet another layer of legal complications. "Later on in our negotiations, they said they were negotiating to acquire it, so I don't know [the status]," he says.
Since Fontenot called off the deal, however, Cal-Bay has a new legal problem. On Feb. 6 real estate appraiser Lane Godshall's company, hired by Cal-Bay to appraise the property in October, filed suit in state district court seeking $4,500.
Godshall says he was unfamiliar with Cal-Bay when asked to appraise the property, so he requested up-front payment for his services. "They sent me a check via FedEx," he says. Godshall conducted the appraisal, sent it to his client in mid-November and deposited the check. He then went out of town for a week.
"I came back, and it had bounced," Godshall says. When Godshall called the company, vice president Sickert blamed an administrative error. Recalls Godshall, "He said, 'We have like six bank accounts and are always moving money around.'" After that initial conversation, Godshall says Cal-Bay representatives stopped taking his calls.
When his demand letter was also ignored, Godshall filed suit. "That hasn't happened to me in a number ' a number of years," the appraiser says.
Local and state agents Thursday night raided The Keg, the popular college bar located in the area known as The Strip, leading to the (at least) temporary closure of the venue.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday, April 18, 2014:
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
Time and time again, the Lafayette Parish School Board shows an overwhelming tendency toward idiocy, but Wednesday night’s contentious discussion over Northside High School’s teen mother program tops the list of dumb discussions.
“The accomplishment of this goal within the next ten years is not only critical for the region to effectively compete with other regions for residents and businesses, but also to provide an amenity for everyone in Acadiana to enjoy.”
Education Superintendent John White says a continued push to try to keep Louisiana from using tests associated with the Common Core education standards are creating "a state of chaos" for public school teachers.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's plan to use $210 million in surplus and one-time money to help balance next year's budget received the backing Thursday of the State Bond Commission, support that was needed for the maneuver to work.
State wildlife and fisheries agents have arrested a 39-year-old man accused of stealing crawfish.
An East Feliciana Parish lawmaker has jettisoned his proposal to make it harder for a condemned prisoner to appeal a death sentence.
Senators advanced a proposal Wednesday that would let the governor remove New Orleans-area levee board members for violating what he considers to be public policy, despite concerns it would introduce political meddling into state flood protection.
The Lafayette City-Parish Council on Tuesday will vote on a resolution that if approved would clear the way for a December ballot proposition asking voters to approve a 1-cent sales tax parishwide to help fund the construction of a new terminal at Lafayette Regional Airport.
Just days before the fourth anniversary of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster and oil spill, the Coast Guard has moved cleanup of Louisiana's coast to a new phase, allowing BP to end its "active" efforts in the area.
Legislators still must leave their guns at the door of the Louisiana Capitol.
Sen. Fred Mills may have an "R" behind his name, but his actions in the Louisiana Legislature transcend the established boundaries of his party.
The Louisiana House overwhelmingly rejected a repeal of the state's unconstitutional anti-sodomy law Tuesday.
The Louisiana Senate sided with Gov. Bobby Jindal and the oil industry Tuesday, agreeing to void a lawsuit that a south Louisiana flood board filed against more than 90 oil and gas companies for coastal damage.
Acadian rep notifies would-be supporters that an April 25 fundraiser for the embattled U.S. rep won’t go on as planned.
While it isn’t all too unusual for public bodies to have hired security present during meetings, the LPSB’s push to do so is arguably a response to the antics of one board member.
“I’m running. Why would I be raising all this money? Just to have to return it to people?”
With incumbent U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu watching from afar, and with a united Democratic Party in her corner, the fight to get the GOP officially behind Congressman Bill Cassidy is gaining just as much momentum as it is hushed controversy.
15th Judicial District Judge Durwood Conque has announced that he will not seek re-election after 27 years on the bench.
The controversial standardized tests are set to be used in third-grade through eighth-grade public school classrooms next year.
The Louisiana Senate has agreed to prohibit unmanned aircraft from flying over chemical plants, water treatment systems, telecommunications networks and other items considered "critical infrastructure" in Louisiana.
It didn’t take long for KATC TV 3 to jump all over the news of a dead body found in Girard Park, but in its rush to produce headlines, the local TV station got sloppy.
An unholy trinity of civil-society upheavalers whose first names are not Conner, Tanner or Logan are facing charges in Eunice.