Bankrupt Landmark developer back in real estate

Developer Zack Davidson is President and CEO of the company that plans a low-impact, but profitable, development of the 994-acre Hideout Lake community near Telluride.

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Zack Davidson, the developer of the Landmark condominium and retail project in Greenwood Village that became embroiled in one of the largest and most highly visible real estate bankruptcies in the Denver area in recent years, has re-emerged as a top executive of a California-based firm that says its mission is to provide attractive returns to wealthy investors, while protecting, preserving and improving pristine property.

Davidson, who filed for personal Chapter 7 liquidation of his assets in Denver bankruptcy court almost exactly two years ago, is now the President and CEO of the Earthkeeper Alliance. A call to the company, seeking an interview with Davidson, has not been returned.

Not broadcasting bankruptcies

The biography of Davidson on the company’s website did not mention the Chapter 11 bankruptcy of the Landmark project that included two condo towers and the Village Shops at the Landmark in 2009, nor his personal bankruptcy in February 2010.

Landmark Tower condo, retail project in Greenwood Village

His personal bankruptcy listed $164.6 million in liabilities and $141.3 million in personal property. His real property included a house at 820 Gaylord St. His bankruptcy filing said he rejected an offer to sell it for $2.1 million. Last March, it sold in a short sale for $1.875 million. The largest claim in his Chapter 7 liquidation bankruptcy was $90.66 million owed to Hypo Real Estate Capital Corp. that  made a construction loan on the Landmark and had been personally guaranteed by Davidson.

Zack Davidson't former Denver home was sold in a short sale.

During the frothy real estate market of early 2007, Davidson threw parties promoting the Landmark that Realtors at the time compared to something out of Cirque du Soleil. Guests dined on chateaubriand, veal scallopini and lobster salad and he handed out lavish gift packages to guests. He later boasted that he would spend $1.7 million throwing a party.

Davidson’s biography on the Earthkeepers’s website said that for the past 13 years he has served as President and CEO of Everest Development Co. and Eikon Investments, with offices in San Francisco, Denver and Dallas.

The bio of Davidson goes on to say that those “diversified real estate development companies have acquired, entitled, developed and redeveloped nearly $1 billion of extremely complex and diverse real estate assets throughout the western United States.”

“Un-developer” developer

It does not say when Davidson joined the privately held Earthkeeper Alliance, headed and founded by Adam C. Hall. In 2007, Hall, who had previously made millions of dollars in real estate, began to “acquire large tracts of land for conservation and un-development,” according to the company’s website.

The firm’s goal is to do well by doing good.

Its mantra is to “conserve, protect and restore,” pristine land, keeping it from being over-developed. It says there are millions of acres in the U.S. that could benefit from those three principles.

Its brochure is filled with aphorisms such as:

  • We are committed to leaving the world a better place.
  • We honor both those that came before us and those that will follow.
  • We are guardians and custodians of our time.
  • Our endeavor is to create a Legacy that endures for many generation.
  • It is not just about what we leave behind, but what we give forward!

In Colorado, it said it has Hideout Lake, between Montrose and Telluride, under contract.

$1 million minimum

It take a minimum investment of $1 million to participate in what is called Earthkeeper Legacy Fund I, which will buy and sell  the 994-acres Hideout Lake.

Development drawing for Hideout Lake.

Alternatives for the land include creating 50 “family compound ranches” with an average size of five acres each, distributed throughout the property, with shared access on 744 acres that will be conserved. It also said it will develop a ‘world-class” amenity program that will include fly fishing, cross-country skiing, an equestrian center, a clubhouse with pool and spa, mountain biking, ski cat, hiking, white water rafting, lake fishing, hunting, mountain climbing and spelunking.

Documents obtained by InsideRealEstateNews, show under that development scenario an investments is projected to provide a “preferred return” of 8 percent per year and a projected investor internal rate of return of 27.1 percent. The projected total return is 63.4 percent, with a projected holding period of three years. Some 65 percent of the profit splits beyond the preferred returns would go to the investors and 35 percent to the sponsor. The sponsor management fee is 2 percent per year and would invest 3 percent of the total capital. The fund is expected to be in place for seven years.

In keeping with the company’s ethos to tread lightly on land, its proposed development is far less than the 284 single-family home lots, 91 “cabin” sites, and six “estate” lots entitled to be built on the property.

Earthkeeper’s documents say it is scheduled to close on Hideout Lake on April 1. The acquisition price is  $5.7 million and the total project cost is just under $11.2 million, if it is developed.

Another alternative is to sell the entire property as a “single legacy ranch” with defined places construct buildings. It estimated it can sell the property as a ranch with a minimum of $10 million with a 3 percent cost of sale. Under this option, the total investment internal rate of return to the investor group is expected to be 20.2 percent.

“A third option always exists in that  we can sell the entire property to a land trust,” the firm notes. “We have not modeled this option, but in light of the market comparable s and the severely distressed pricing we have secured, we are confident that selling to a land trust would result in a return in the low teens.”

Horseback riding by Hideout Lake.

Map showing Hideout Lake

Earthkeeper said that $43 million already has been invested in the property, which had been operated as a working ranch until Pacific Development bought it in 2004 and “began the lengthy entitlement process for a large golf course.” A Jack Nicklaus signature golf course was planned on the property, 9,000 feet above sea level with panoramic views of the San Juan Mountains. In 2008, the property was appraised at $121.85 million. The discounted present value of the property is now $74.63 million, according to Earthkeeper. The $120 million Cornerstone Club, with a Greg Norman golf course, is within walking distance of Hidden Lake.

In the 1800s, Hideout Lake was occupied by the Ute Indians and the Tabeguache tribe.

Earthkeeper has identified 136,700 acres of “additional opportunities” in 15 states with a total ‘transaction size” of $213 million. Those opportunities include 2,200 acres for $10 million in Colorado.

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Contact John Rebchook at JRCHOOK@gmail.com

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John Rebchook

John Rebchook has more than 30 years of experience in writing and communications. As the Real Estate Editor for the Rocky Mountain News, he wrote about residential and commercial real estate for 26 years. He has won numerous awards for business stories and columns that he wrote, both as an individual and part of teams. In addition to real estate, he also covered economic development, banking and financing, the airlines, and cable TV for the Rocky. In addition, he was one of the original freelance writers for GlobeSt.com, covering commercial real estate for the Internet publication.

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Comments

  1. I agree with Jason, this guy Zach Davidson is more than shady and quite honestly, a flat out liar. We just purchased a home in Denver that Zach and some other jokers purchased in September 2010, with the intention of flipping the property. They added a master bedroom/bathroom addition, to which they received permits for, and hired a reputable company to do the work, and in hindsight, they hired the reputable company because it was permitted and would need to be inspected. Now comes the rest of the house, where they did not get a permit to do the work, and where all the problems lie. When we first viewed the home, there were signs saying, “brand new sewer line”. Turns out, Zach hired someone who had no clue what they were doing, and this person intalled a 3″ sewer line coming from a 30-gallon ejector pump and our whole house (4 bathrooms, kithcne laundry, dishwasher) was all draining into this ejector pump. Well, within ten days, the whole house was backed up with sewer, and a master plumber looked at what had been done and he recommended we exit the house immediately and get a hotel as the house was considered incredibly hazardous (mind you, my wife was 8 months pregnant and we have a two year old son). Turns out, we didn’t need an ejector pump, but Zach was tyring to line is his pockets, so he did a botchy job by having the worker only have to dig down so far, then eject the sewage up to the new 3″ line (this is not code, which is 4″). What did he do for us? $1,500 plus a afghan rug at a consignment shop in Cherry Creek, along with telling other lies that they lost money in the house, he couldn’t see his kids, he wanted to shoot him self (typical pity party, which to me says a lot about his character). Now on to the rest, the AC unit had no power going to it, no phone or cable lines in the whole house (they were in a nice little pile under some bushes in the yard) the hood over the gas range was just venting into the attic and to boot, there was a ceiling joist going right across the hole in our ceiling where the hood vented to. If that’s not a fire hazard, I don’t know what is. To this day, we are still finding problems with the house, though not as serious as above, but just add up to the kind of guy he is. It blows my mind that ANYONE, let alone some huge develoment firm, would hire this guy, and quite frankly, if this company wants to call me and find out more, I’m more than willing to talk.

  2. Let’s see, Zack Davidson is now the president and CEO of The EarthKeeper Alliance.

    I am investor, do I invest in The EarthKeeper Alliance when their new president and CEO:

    -Counterfeited hot tubs and was sued by Bains Ultra
    -Busted by local Denver television for his phone microwave scam
    -buys a jet which was repossed by GE Capital
    -Accused of misusing improvement funds

    I think not.

  3. Tim’s article from 2008 was interesting but look at the August, 2009 article; microwaves and hot tubs weren’t the only potential problems. Other problems include cabinets inferior to those promised buyers, door hardware and locks made in Pakistan rather than high-end hardware promised and wall construction that was inferior to that promised the buyers. What’s interesting is Zack is quoted as saying “We regret that certain challenges, including financing issues with the project’s senior lender, Hypo Real Estate Capital Corporation, combined with the local and national slowdown of residential home sales, and the inability of our buyers to sell their existing homes and obtain financing for their new homes here at Landmark, have unfortunately impacted our cash flow and made reorganization our only option.” Really?! Zack plays the victim very well but in reality it was his misrepresentations, lies and overspending on lavish parties that caused the project to fail. Based on Jason’s comment it looks like his next venture of “fix and flips” was a REPEAT! Constant misrepresentations and shabby work to save money. Hopefully potential investors will do their background on this President & CEO BEFORE they write that $1-million check! Be sure and read the full article, link below:
    http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/20651236/detail.html

  4. There is so much more to Zack Davidson’s crooked nature that needs to be brought to light. Misappropriation of over $750,000 of public funds for the Marin Metro District that he was the President of; personal use of monies from his main partnership account for his own condo, thereby bilking investors that he partnered with – just like what happened in Denver with Erik Osborn in Denver (google that name and you can see the parallels with Zack); having workers and trades at the Landmark project do work at Zack’s house for no charge -promising them work that he had no intention of ever giving them; filing false and misleading bankruptcy schedules both in the 7677 Bankruptcy and in his personal bankruptcy; one of my favorites was where Zack claimed an exemption in his personal wine collection claiming it as “food” in his bankruptcy case – the trustee and court had a field day on that one; someone mentioned the Bain lawsuit, where he was sued and was quickly covered up, a great read, the pleadings are still of record and available; in his bankruptcy where certain antiques (valued at over $100,000) were claimed to be owned by him, which also showed up at the sales center, and then at his house, and then for sale by him on consignment personally – where he claimed “that he owned the items himself” by his sworn statement; or where Zack bought a car in his Mom’s name – a Maserati no less, so as to defraud creditors, because he was under stress and wanted to drive it in the mountains of Colorado; the failed christmas tree lots that he lost money on a year ago for his mom and other investors; where he made statements under oath to Greenwood Village City Council about setting up the Marin Metro District which, when made were not true; and more…. this is still but the tip of the iceberg. caveat emptor….

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