Hard times hit home for housing developer
By Terry Hillig
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
GLEN CARBON — Prime Development Inc., a major commercial and residential developer and builder in the Edwardsville-Glen Carbon-Troy area for a decade, has all but disappeared, leaving behind partly completed homes and subdivisions and a host of unpaid lenders and subcontractors.
Attempts to contact the company’s two top officials were unsuccessful, but an attorney for the company on Saturday blamed a stagnant housing market for the company’s problems.
The company’s telephones are disconnected. Its former office in Club Centre in Edwardsville is closed. The company has an office on South State Route 159 in Glen Carbon, but there is no sign outside, and the doors were locked Friday morning. A worker at a neighboring business said there is seldom anyone in the office.
More than 200 mechanic’s liens have been filed against Prime in Madison County. Subtracting those that have been released or forfeited, it appears that about 100 are pending.
Records in the Illinois secretary of state’s office list Patrick A. Parker of Godfrey as Prime Development’s president and Steven F. Gardner of Edwardsville as its secretary.
Efforts to contact the men were unsuccessful.
The village of Glen Carbon has been paying the company’s power bills to prevent the shutdown of drainage pumps that protect the partly developed Fairfield subdivision.
Edwardsville police filed seven misdemeanor charges of criminal housing management against Prime last month, alleging that conditions at seven building sites in the Willow Creek III subdivision posed threats to health and safety.
Eileen and David Schade were the first to buy a home on Coles Court in Willow Creek III in 2003. Eileen Schade said there were problems from the start. The front porch sank, and it took more than two months to get it repaired, she said.
Four years later, seven houses near the Schades’ home remain unfinished and apparently unsold. One of the houses is boarded up.
“You’re looking at a subdivision of $300,000-plus homes, and they let the weeds grow,” she said.
A few weeks ago, weeds were 4 feet high on some of the lots, said Lt. Scott Evers of the Edwardsville Police Department.
“There was trash in the yards,” Evers said. “There was mud running everywhere.”
The weeds have been cut, and there has been some cleanup since police filed charges, he said.
But concerns remain. Schade said she and her husband worry that the empty houses will attract vandals or even an arsonist.
In Fairfield, attractive new homes with well-kept lawns sit near others that appear to have been abandoned in mid-construction.
“Everyone in the neighborhood is concerned,” said Paul Johnes. He and his wife, Kasey, bought their house in April of last year.
“Most people have unresolved issues,” Johnes said. “They were supposed to fix our front porch a year ago. We’ve talked to the village officials. They’re trying to get answers as well.”
Paul Lauber, an Edwardsville lawyer, represents Prime Development in some of its legal matters.
He said Saturday that the company’s difficulties are a symptom of a depressed housing market.
“They went from selling 60 to 100 homes a year down to a couple a month and it has really hurt them,” he said. “Housing sales have totally fallen off the table. They’re trying to work out of it. They want to pay everyone.”
Schade and Johnes both said they were confident the problems would be resolved at some point, perhaps by a new owner or builder. In the meantime, they said, it’s frustrating not to know what’s going to happen, or when.
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