MISHAWAKA - The Riverwalk Townhomes in the 200 block of West Mishawaka Avenue are no longer under the control of the developers.
Chuck Trippel, who teamed with real estate broker John Piraccini on the project seven years ago, said the town homes are now under the control of Mutual Bank.
He said it wasn't a foreclosure on the property, which includes 11 town homes.
Three were sold; two others are leased; and six others sit empty with floor plans waiting to be developed.
"It was an amicable settlement with Mutual Bank," Trippel said Friday. "An amicable separation. Mutual Bank has been a great partner throughout the process."
Mutual Bank did not return calls Friday seeking elaboration on its plans.
"I have no idea what their plans are," Trippel said. "I don't know if they have another developer."
Trippel said it was originally an 18-month project that stretched into seven years. The plan was first talked about in 2006 and ground was broken in 2007. Six of the town homes have no interior finish.
"The whole concept was for people to design their own interior finish so they are not all the same," he said.
The three that did sell went for about $280,000, Trippel said, with one going for more than $300,000 because of upgrades.
Trippel said it's hard to say just what went wrong, but pointed to an economy and a real estate market that went south about the same time they were first trying to sell the units for $365,000 to $399,000 in 2008.
"We can sell them right now," Trippel said, "but we can't sell them and make any money on them."
The two-story units with a two-car garage and basement located on the river side feature decks overlooking the river and a brick finish. Trippel said he felt the units were priced correctly.
"Actually, if you go back to day one when we built them, we thought they were priced in the mid-$300s," he said. "One of the biggest problems in our target market was people who wanted to downsize and sell their big home and get into something with no maintenance and something a little smaller couldn't sell their house for what they thought it was worth."
He said a Granger couple, who thought their home was worth $400,000, for example, learned that its value had plunged to $250,000.
"And they (the owners) say, 'Why sell?' We ran up against that a lot," Trippel said.
Mutual Bank did not have the loan originally, Trippel said, but has held the note for several years now.