Last month The Columbus Dispatch broke the news that the Ibiza Condo Project to be built in the Short North in Columbus, Ohio, was no more because the condos owners, Apex Realty Enterprises, is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
For those unaware, the Ibiza Condo Project was a major condominium that was to be built on the corner of Hubbard and High in the Short North. The condos were going to be sold for 159,999 to 1,549,999 depending on the view and was to include pent houses, top deck indoor swimming pools and a state-of-the-art fitness center. They’ve been advertising this as the place that the movers and shakers of Columbus would be living once it was built.
Apex’s four partners — Raymond Brown, Michael Council, Rajesh Lahoti and Wilbur Ischie — announced their plans for Ibiza in 2006 and apparently everything went downhill from there. According to various reports funding for the project fell through early on and in order to keep the project afloat they started selling the condos before even breaking ground. But 15 months ago they announced that they were abandoning the condos concept and building regular apartments, at which point people started asking for their money back. When Apex couldn’t produce, the onslaught of suits began, which has led to the company filing bankruptcy. (I personally think that anyone who would spend $1 million to live in Ohio, deserves to loose their money, but I digress.)
The evidence against Apex is mounting (i.e. emails between Council and Brown where they actually say they’re going to start lying to clients who’ve asked for their money back) and it looks like the courts could be processing this one for years. The lawsuit lists liabilities of $10 million to $50 million and Apex’s assets at less than $10 million.
However, that may not be the worst of the news. Apex and it’s partners also have major investments in such popular Short North hot spots as Union Cafe, Havana, Axis Nightclub (which are all gay clubs) and a host of other commercial buildings in the area. This could mean bad news for the Short North if businesses (especially gay ones) start shutting down. (I reached out to the Short North Business Association for comment on how the failed Ibiza deal would affect the district, but received no response.)
It’s a known fact in Columbus that the Short North is the “gay district” and the reason why Columbus has one of the largest numbers of gays per capita in the country. And as they say, once the gay dollars go, so goes the neighborhood. It would also be extremely ironic as gentrification is the reason the Short North is what it is today. Twenty years ago it was overridden with drugs and was the area with one of the highest crime rates in the city.
Also according to the dispatch, Apex listed the Community Loan Fund amongst it’s largest debtors, at $5.1 million. The Community Loan Fund is a Columbus-based nonprofit group that helps fund projects in low-income areas, which means tax-payers may also be taking the fall for this massive conspiracy.