David Syre, a prominent Bellingham developer and timber baron whose past projects include the Semiahmoo resort near Blaine, filed for bankruptcy protection Thursday, but his attorney said he expects all creditors will be repaid in full.
David Syre, a prominent Bellingham developer and timber baron whose past projects include the Semiahmoo resort near Blaine, filed for bankruptcy protection Thursday. His attorney said he expects all creditors will be repaid in full.
Syre listed assets of $170 million and liabilities of $69.7 million in papers filed in federal bankruptcy court in Seattle.
Gayle Bush, Syre’s attorney, said in an interview that while Syre had been “working through a lot of financial challenges” for some time, the main impetus for the Chapter 11 filing was a continuing legal dispute with one of his lenders, a Skagit County entity called Polygon Financial 05.
“We figured that rather than giving one creditor a leg up we would get everyone into a single forum,” Bush said.
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Syre is the sole owner of Trillium, a timber and development company. The bankruptcy petition values his Trillium stock at $83.6 million.
Trillium’s current holdings include land in Alaska and Southern California, as well as timber projects in Argentina. Syre’s other major assets, according to the filing, are his ownership of two Bellingham-based companies, CH Sawmill (valued at $53.8 million) and Oro Verde ($19.3 million).
He also listed as assets a 208.9-acre farm in Whatcom County, valued at $3 million; 2.2 acres at Semiahmoo ($1 million), 14.7 acres of other farm property in Whatcom County valued at $370,000; and 66 acres north of Juneau, Alaska valued at $225,000.
In August, The Bellingham Herald reported that Trillium had turned several parcels over to lenders after defaulting on loans.
Besides Polygon Financial 05, which claims it is owed $11.3 million (and is no relation to homebuilder Polygon Northwest), the major creditors listed in the petition include Washington Federal, which holds mortgages on two of Syre’s properties totaling $15.3 million; and his ex-wife, Kay Syre, who is owed more than $30 million as part of their divorce agreement.
Seven years ago, Syre and Trillium became enmeshed in the collapse of Spokane’s Metropolitan Mortgage & Securities. Trillium had engaged in a complex series of property deals with Metropolitan and one of its insurance subsidiaries, in an effort to both raise cash for Trillium and make Metropolitan’s financial statements look better in advance of a planned securities offering.
In 2007, Syre and Trillium settled civil fraud charges brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission by paying penalties of $50,000 and $75,000, respectively.
A Trillium subsidiary that was seeking to develop property in Denver filed for bankruptcy protection in 2005, but Bush said Wednesday that all of that firm’s creditors eventually were paid in full.
That should be the case this time, too, he said: “It’s a matter of timing, and trying to find the right environment to get these assets sold at their maximum values.”
Drew DeSilver: 206-464-3145 or email@example.com