Undeveloped remains of Mountain Ranch property headed to auction

by Paul Gatling (pgatling@nwabj.com) 1,287 views 

The undeveloped remains of what was envisioned a decade ago as a 460-acre mixed-use development in Fayetteville is headed to the auction block.

Investors, developers, home builders and others will all have the opportunity to purchase approximately 262 bank-owned acres west of Interstate 49. Wilson Auctioneers of Hot Springs will conduct the auction at 10 a.m. Dec. 12 at the nearby Hilton Garden Inn at the Wedington Road exit.

The land is north of Sixth Street (Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard) in west Fayetteville and is known as the Mountain Ranch property. Colliers Dickson Flake Partners of Little Rock announced its intention to develop the acreage in 2008. Colliers partnered with Jorgensen & Associates Engineers in Fayetteville to design a multi-phase plan for the development, with residential, multifamily and commercial components. Construction costs for the entire project were estimated at more than $300 million.

The land owner at the time was Coco Mountain Ranch LLC, registered to Little Rock lawyer-slash-investor Steven Eugene “Gene” Cauley. Coco Mountain purchased the development from Fayetteville businessman Tom Terminella in July 2007 for $17.1 million, but the majority of the land was later returned to Conway-based lender Centennial Bank in 2011. Cauley was stripped of his Arkansas law license in 2009 and sent to federal prison after admitting to a New York federal judge that he stole more than $9.3 million from clients. Cauley committed suicide last year at his Hot Springs home. He was 48.

Among the developments that did manage to come to fruition in Mountain Ranch were the 15-acre Mountain Ranch Apartments, a four-story, 360-unit complex. Delta Group Electronics Inc. also built a 4.68-acre office development. A neighborhood with 117 residential lots was also developed.

Chuck Dicus, an agent with Wilson Auctioneers, said the auction is an absolute auction and the property will sell regardless of price on auction day. He said the property will be offered in seven tracts — three commercial and four residential/multifamily — and any combination of those tracts, including its entirety.

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