Judge orders seizure of Nicholson Drive site of proposed River District mixed-use development _lowres


A federal bankruptcy judge has halted the seizure of land for the proposed River District mixed-use development along Nicholson Drive and land at the Port of Iberia, pending a hearing on a motion for arbitration.

Goldman Sachs Bank USA had requested foreclosure on the properties in July from Lafayette businessman Michel Moreno. The lender also sought the appointment of a keeper for the properties and sale at auction.

Judge Rebecca F. Doherty, of the Western District of Louisiana, issued the seizure order last week, and Latter & Blum Property Management Inc. was appointed as keeper of the properties. The auction date had not been set.

Doherty on Tuesday stopped those actions, based on a request for arbitration by Moreno.

The motion to compel arbitration is expected to be heard Nov. 20.

The bank said Moreno owes $58.4 million in principal and accrued interest.

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 its foreclosure suit.

According to the bank, Moreno and his entities defaulted on that debt.

Moreno 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.

He also owns 106.7 acres at the Port of Iberia.