A New York bank wants to auction the site of the proposed River District mixed-use development and additional real estate off Port Road in New Iberia because of $58.4 million allegedly owed by Lafayette businessman Michel Moreno.
Moreno has proposed the 34.8-acre River District development on Nicholson Drive between downtown Baton Rouge and LSU. Plans for the development include two hotels, 1,832 residential units ranging from apartments to townhomes, a possible neighborhood grocery store and 118,500 square feet of commercial space.
The foreclosure request was filed by Goldman Sachs Bank USA on July 8 in federal district court in Lafayette. The case was assigned to U.S. District Judge Rebecca F. Doherty.
Moreno and several of his trusts and companies used the Baton Rouge and New Iberia properties as security for a loan of $52.4 million in October 2013, Goldman Sachs says in the suit.
According to the bank, Moreno and his entities defaulted on that debt and now owe $58.4 million in principal and interest.
Jeffrey R. Fine, an attorney for Moreno in Dallas, said Wednesday that Moreno “doesn’t have any comment about the litigation.” Fine declined to say anything beyond that statement.
Much of the Baton Rouge property formerly was known as Nicholson Drive Estates. It includes acreage on both sides of Nicholson Drive, centered around Magnolia Mound, and many of the lots acquired by Moreno measure between 400 feet and 450 feet in depth or width or both, according to court documents.
Goldman Sachs attorneys R. Patrick Vance and Laura E. Ashley, both of New Orleans, and Carmen M. Rodriguez, of Lafayette, asked Doherty to order U.S. marshals in Lafayette and Baton Rouge to proceed with foreclosure sales of both properties. The bank attorneys also ask that Goldman Sachs be credited in the amount of $58.4 million for any bid the bank wishes to make on the two properties.
For the past two years, Moreno has been involved in other significant litigation.
In October 2013, Moreno signed as chairman of Green Field Energy Services Inc. and placed that Lafayette-based company in Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization in Delaware.
Green Field Energy has since been forced into Chapter 7 liquidation proceedings in that Delaware case, which remains pending.
At the outset of that case, Green Field Energy said it had between 1,000 and 5,000 creditors. The firm also estimated it had between $100 million and $500 million in assets, the same dollar range it estimated for its liabilities. Among the firm’s largest unsecured creditors were Wilmington Trust, of Guilford, Connecticut, $255.9 million; Shell subsidiary SWEPI LP, of Houston, $80 million; Chem Rock Technologies LLC, of Lafayette, $6.6 million; Preferred Quality Chemicals LLC, of Shreveport, $4.8 million; and Jereh, a Chinese firm in Shandong Province, $4.6 million.
In another case pending before Doherty in federal district court in Lafayette, GE Oil & Gas Inc. seeks more than $27.4 million from Moreno and Turbine Generation Services LLC.
GE Oil & Gas alleges that money is owed on a loan of $25 million granted to Turbine Generation Services in May 2013. GE also says Moreno personally guaranteed repayment of the loan.
Moreno and his company contend GE’s $25 million was not a loan but a first investment in a joint venture that was to have involved both GE and Turbine Generation Services.