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Business Observer Tuesday, May 5, 2009 11 years ago

Opus South speculation heats up

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The news of Opus South Corp. filing for protection from creditors in U.S. Bankruptcy Court has led to speculation on the future of the company's Tampa office and Florida properties.

The news of Opus South Corp. filing for protection from creditors in U.S. Bankruptcy Court has led to speculation on the future of the company's Tampa office and Florida properties.

One thing is clear. The Tampa office is shrinking.

John Flavin, head of the Tampa office, has left Opus, returning to his home state of California to start his own company.

Also gone is veteran Tampa real estate executive Barry Greenfield, who has started his own real estate consulting firm, Opi Consulting Corp., in St. Petersburg.

One source said the company was winding down the office and would likely keep a handful of people in Tampa and Atlanta, the two Opus South locations.

Also uncertain, and likely dead, are the company's two proposed urban power center retail projects in Tampa on Westshore and on Hillsborough Avenue.

The future of the company's existing properties in Florida is unknown. Publicly, Opus Group, the parent company, said that the suffering condominium and residential real estate market hurt Opus South in Florida at exactly the worst time.

Atlanta-based Opus South filed for reorganization under Chapter 11 April 22. Chapter 11 allows a company to remain in business while it reorganizes its finances. Opus South listed liabilities between $50 million and $100 million. According to Hoovers, the firm had estimated revenue totaling $20.4 million in 2007.

Opus South has 12 bank loans totaling $324 million. Four of the loans are for condo projects valued at $103 million, while the other 12 are for commercial real estate projects totaling $220 million.

Opus South's business model involved typically selling its developments prior to completion, but that became more difficult in the past year.

The firm estimates that it owes between 200 and 999 creditors between $50 million to $100 million, according to bankruptcy court documents. The company's estimated assets are between $50 million and $100 million.

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