Middletown upscale development tied to sports complex

 

LC Homes built a swimming pool and clubhouse as it constructed the Estates at Saint Annes neighborhood in Middletown. (Delaware State News/Craig Anderson)

MIDDLETOWN — The complicated relationship between a town and Maryland entrepreneur includes court-terminated lease agreement involving the proposed Delaware Sports Complex last week.

Next week, the Town of Middletown and Daniel Watson of Easton, Maryland, may face another separate dilemma involving a nearly completed clubhouse and swimming pool, along with an unfinished golf course within a mile or so of the floundering sports complex on Levels Road in west Middletown near U.S. 301 and the Maryland border.

LC Homes of Wilmington will soon turn over the facilities to the town as part of its agreement to construct the upscale Estates at Saint Annes neighborhood.

The town has a 99-year lease at $1 annually with Mr. Watson to manage the facilities on Middletown-owned land. The municipality has pledged to provide spray and irrigation services for the venture, if applicable.

Regarding the sports complex with the same 99-year, $1 annual lease terms, Mr. Watson earlier filed for bankruptcy in federal court after he bought out the original owners when construction stalled and financial woes emerged. A federal judge terminated the land lease agreement afterward.

In a bankruptcy filing, the DSC listed nearly $1.6 million in debt claims by 13 creditors, including $195,000 supposedly owed to the Town of Middletown.

LC Homes built a swimming pool and clubhouse as it constructed the Estates at Saint Annes neighborhood in Middletown. (Delaware State News/Craig Anderson)

Financial stability will certainly be at issue when the town and Mr. Watson eventually discuss the Saint Annes project’s future. The original agreement involved Mr. Watson managing operations for the facilities.

Middletown Mayor Kenneth L. Branner Jr. said Thursday that LC Homes could possibly turn over the facilities to the town next week, and Mr. Watson’s stake in managing the Saint Annes operations will be discussed at some point after that.

According to officials, original sports complex partner Matt Richter is still connected to managing Saint Annes operations if the venture moves ahead. Mr. Richter is no longer a sports complex developer.

The future of the current Saint Annes agreement is much in doubt, however. Mr. Watson said there are “some curious aspects” of the lease with the town.

“I’m thinking there may be a meeting next week to answer some questions about it,” he said. “I have no desire to be anything other than transparent.

“It’s not clear that the project can move forward. The town has not been in touch with me in any material way.”

Regarding the sports complex, Mr. Watson would not discuss any options under consideration and said “the Delaware Sports Complex remains in bankruptcy.”

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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