Some residents at The Cliffs Communities scratched their heads when the board in charge of identifying a buyer for the development selected a wealthy local couple, Steve and Penny Carlile, over experienced developers, including the [John] Reed Group out of Bluffton, SC (Colleton River, Belfair, Berkeley Hall, Hampton Hall) and the Stokes Land Group,
As the board’s decision to choose the Carliles sinks in, some residents are speculating that Cliffs founder Jim Anthony may be behind the surprising selection. The Carliles have made no secret that they plan to engage Anthony as a consultant, and the fact that the couple bought a lot in the flailing High Mountain development could signal a special kind of loyalty to the founder. The Carliles also contributed a reported $300,000 to the $64 million they and 500 other members provided to Anthony to upgrade and finish the amenities in the Cliffs communities. After one payment, Anthony defaulted on that loan and precipitated the current selling process. A bankruptcy court will ultimately decide if the Carliles have the best plan for The Cliffs. If some other group walks off with the prize, the Carliles will receive a $1 million payment, plus expenses, for their troubles, according to our sources.
As we wrote earlier, the Carliles’ agreement with the Cliffs board leaves the door open to other bids. Readers of this column may recall that a few months before he defaulted on the loan from his members, Anthony sued the Urbana Companies and a local South Carolina bank for having
Cliffs members meet tonight in Greenville to discuss with the board and the Carliles the sale of their community. I won’t be a fly on the wall, but if I were, and given the Carliles’ apparent fierce loyalty to Jim Anthony in the face of his failed management and default on their loan, I would ask the Carliles one question: “Will you adopt me?”