Payne County Associate District Judge Stephen Kistler has scheduled a hearing on the sale of The Ranch, a large, high-end retirement community that was planned with retired Oklahoma State University faculty and alumni in mind.
He is expected to approve the sale of the foreclosed property, which is estimated to be 80-85 percent complete, during a hearing at 9 a.m. Friday in Payne County District Court.
On Nov. 8, Kistler gave court-appointed receiver Robert Schock an extension through the end of November to attract more than one bidder on The Ranch after the only qualified bidder offered $12.4 million, a fraction of the approximately $60 million already spent on the project.
Construction on The Ranch, which was funded with the sale of $110 million in bonds, was halted in late December 2017 after bond investors froze funds and stopped paying contractors. At the time, several months had passed since many contractors had received payment for their work.
The remainder of the proceeds from sale of the bonds is being held by UMB Bank, the trustee for the bondholders.
General contractor the Weitz Company and a long list of subcontractors have been petitioning for payment of their unpaid balances from the remaining $50 million in bond funds.
On Nov. 16, Kistler, approved an amended final judgment that clarified an order he entered on July 31 at the request of HTI Painting, Inc., Kerns Construction, Inc., Gellenbeck Construction, Inc., and Lee Glass and Window, LLC.
His original order found that the contractors and subcontractors can not assert claims for payment against the funds being held by the bond trustee.
The amended final judgment does not change that ruling. However, it clarifies that Kistler’s decision can be appealed immediately to the Oklahoma Supreme Court, something that is not always true when a case is still active.
The amended order opens the door for the contractors and subcontractors to make another attempt at getting payment.
This type of order is sometimes entered when the trial court determines that an interlocutory order, meaning it was entered in an intermediate stage of a case, affects the merits of the case and that an immediate appeal could benefit the case’s ultimate resolution.
Although Kistler’s order can be appealed before the entire case has been resolved, that doesn’t mean it will be heard.
The Oklahoma Supreme Court has the discretion to refuse to hear the appeal.