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Time runs out on C.C.Myers’ Winchester dreams

Trustee’s sale leaves Wachovia Bank owner of holdings at upscale Meadow Vista development
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Time ran out Wednesday on C.C. Myers’ bid to retain control of the upscale Winchester development in Meadow Vista. Myers, a larger-than-life bridge builder from Rancho Cordova, had defaulted late last year on $64 million borrowed from Philadelphia-based Wachovia Bank. He’d been working since then on ways to fend off foreclosure proceedings but that effort ended abruptly at a trustee’s sale outside a North Auburn courthouse. Wachovia’s bid of $25 million, which will be applied as credit to the debt it’s already owed, went unchallenged. The bank now takes possession of the 137 unsold and undeveloped lots at Winchester, the 18-hole private golf course designed by world-renowned golf architects Robert Trent Jones and Robert Trent Jones Jr. and the development’s clubhouse. Jim Brett, a Wachovia representative from Philadelphia, took business cards after the trustee’s sale from many in the crowd of 20 who had gathered off B Avenue for the sale. He told them that the bank could offer the properties in a bulk sale to another developer or market them individually. Prices for the properties would be determined at that time, he said. “We’ll sell everything as quickly as possible,” Brett said. Myers said today in a statement that he “did everything possible to prevent this outcome” and the repossession was “very difficult for me personally.” “The tremendous downward slide of the economy in California and the rest of the country created factors that could not be overcome,” he said. Jerry Johnson, Winchester’s initial developer before Myers bought him out eight years ago, said it was a sad day for Myers and Winchester. “But Winchester has a life of its own,” he said. “It’s going to survive. My guess is some developer will work a deal with the bank at a substantially reduced price, pick it up, and Winchester will move on.” Marti Messina, a real estate agent with Auburn’s Lyon Real Estate, said she saw today’s sale as an opportunity for Winchester. “It’s a removal of a cloud,” Messina said. “It’s going to move the existing inventory and we’re seeing things getting close to reaching the sweet spot in pricing.” Winchester’s 409 lots are just less than half built out, with a castle-like, 35,000-square-foot clubhouse serving as a regal centerpiece for homes worth millions of dollars. Myers made his reputation with an engineering and construction company known for building bridges quickly after earthquakes and this past year in Oakland after a section collapsed after a fire. The Winchester project is separate from his bridge-building and highway construction company. The development was an object of pride for Myers – and still is. The 1,100-acre property’s country club won national ranking with Golfweek Magazine as a residential and resort course. Golf Inc. Magazine ranked the Winchester clubhouse the No. 1 best new clubhouse over 20,000 square feet in its spring 2006 edition. “It’s a beautiful place and I’ve invested my time, money and energy into making it very special,” Myers said. “The quality of people who have come to live here is the best you’ll find anywhere.” The Journal’s Gus Thomson can be reached at gust@goldcountrymedia.com.