Bankruptcy court allows lender to take Harbor away from Rob, Sara Whittle

By J.J. Smith. The Harbor on Lake Ray Hubbard in Rockwall has new owners today after a federal bankruptcy judge allowed the lender yesterday to foreclose on the property which was developed and primarily owned by Heath residents Rob and Sara Whittle.

The lender, Credit Union Liquidity Services – a wholly-owned subsidiary of Texans Credit Union – bid just over $25 million at the foreclosure auction in order to purchase the land and six buildings which make up the dining and entertainment district.

The new owner is expected to hire a professional management company immediately to operate the property.

Rob Whittle said this morning that he is disappointed but business will continue as usual.

“I am disappointed. The bankruptcy judge didn’t even allow us to speak at the court hearing (held last Thursday).”

“It’s just where we’re at today. It’s a very tough commercial lending environment.”

“I suppose it sounds silly but The Harbor has been a real labor of love.”

“But the tenants are doing phenomenal and The Harbor is now 90 percent leased with three new restaurants coming in soon.”

“Business will continue as usual.”

The three new restaurants are Luna de Noche Tex-Mex Grill – which has five other locations – Urban Slice Pizza and the The Burger Hut.

Whittle explained that they still own the Phase 2 land and about 90 percent of the parking lots. They also still own the Hilton Bella Harbor Hotel and the land beneath it.

“Hilton Hotels just leases the building from our company,” he said. “Most of the Hilton Hotels are just leased from the property owners.”

“The Hilton in no way is part of this foreclosure. It is doing extremely well right now.”

The foreclosure was allowed by U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District Judge Staci G.C. Jernigan.

Attorney Ryan Manns, of the Dallas office of Fulbright & Jaworski, which represents Credit Union Liquidity Services, declined to comment.

The Whittles’ Mariah Bay Leasing Corporation had filed for a Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization Feb. 19. At the time, Whittle listed assets valued at $42.9 million – primarily in Phase I of The Harbor. About $29 million in liabilities were listed, including the $28 million mortgage.

Watch for a video news report tomorrow featuring an interview with Rob and Sara Whittle, plus interviews and stories with Rockwall City Council members and merchants at The Harbor.

8 Responses for “Bankruptcy court allows lender to take Harbor away from Rob, Sara Whittle”

  1. Monica says:

    I just want to say if it wasn’t for the whittles hundreds of people wouldn’t be working right now. They worked day and night on that project and for anyone to take that away from them should be ashamed of themselves. Apparently they have no clue how to give your whole heart and soul into something and have it taken like that. If it weren’t for the Whittles I wouldn’t have the career I have today, Anyone who has the nerve to talk bad about any of the Whittles you need your head examined and you have no clue what your talking about. I know some how they will be vindicated. they should.

  2. McCall says:

    Gordon and Judy… you obviously have personal issues toward the whittle’s and it shows through your ignorant comments. Mike brought up several great points. Also, we can’t judge someone if we’ve never been in their shoes. Besides, the whittle’s basically gave the city of rockwall the harbor. They took a risk (it may not have panned out for them this time) and provided rockwall with something that MAKES the city known. Have you never taken a risk in life and chose the wrong route?

  3. Gordon says:

    Rob and Sara Whittle are both thief’s and always have been. I hope that anybody in future will not do any business when them. The Tenants are struggling because of the $44 that they have to pay to lease their space, that is just unreal.

  4. Mike says:

    You girls sound like you are carrying a bag of sour grapes around. If you have some personal and specific information you would like to share let’s hear it. From what I have heard, the Whittles were not allowed, under their agreement with the lender, to lower the lease amounts or restructure them in any way. Rob, in his quote, may have sounded a little optimistic not wanting to hurt any of the existing tenants.
    Also Judy what Whittle screw jobs are you referring to? I look around and see several very nice housing developements that they are responsible for and a very nice golf course. The Harbour, which the Whittles were directly responsible for, is the gem of Rockwall and known far and wide.
    Last point is Rob is not in a boat by himself; I know a lot of developers in the Metroplex and most are really hurting or already gone.

  5. billbob says:

    All that was needed to improve the parking were steps from level to level keeping the walkers out of the traffic. Requested many times, even the city thought it was just fine. I am still surprised that some little kid wasn’t hit….or were they? Merchants have told it is so expensive in there that they wish they had never gone there. I am worried about the next management. Maybe the costs are so high it just can’t make it and it wall into disrepair. One thing about the Whittle management is they kept the place manicured. I hope that will continue.

  6. Judy says:

    Sorry but you are wrong…we don’t want our cars driven by anyone else and lots of people have physical limitations, etc. and are unable to do the long hilly walk, we are not lazy. Does anyone know if the new owners will renegotiate the lease terms and also does anyone know what burden this will put on the City of Rockwall since they were also investors. I still find it hard to believe that after all these years and the Whittle business track record that anyone could do any type of business with him. As for the comment that the Harbor is booming, I agree..where does one get this type of information? I know that some of the owners tried to renegotiate a lower lease rate with Whittle and he refused so they had to just walk away. One business stayed less than a month and left. On concert nights, most of the free parking spots are blocked off due to valet parking. A lot of hopefully good changes will be made with the new owners and the Harbor can become the place it was planned to be.

  7. Shannon says:

    I especially like the quoate, “But the tenants are doing phenomenal and The Harbor is now 90 percent leased with three new restaurants coming in soon.” Really? Just what planet is he on? 90% of the tenants are struggling to keep their doors open and any one of them will confirm this!
    BTW, the parking is not that bad. It’s the people who are too lazy to walk that complain. Go to any mall and you end up parking and walking a good distance. It’s the valet that causes all the back ups and takes up all the parking…

  8. Judy says:

    Well another Whittle screw job for us…how much is the City of Rockwall going to lose? Maybe the new owners will redo the parking situation.

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