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MBC buys former Windermere land Print E-mail
By Vicki Brown, Word&Way Associate Editor   
Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Missouri Baptist Convention has bought about 970 acres that originally had been part of Windermere Baptist Conference Center.

News reports indicate that the purchase includes shoreline on both sides of the current Windermere facilities on the Lake of the Ozarks.

After dealing with the financial strain of legal action the MBC filed against Windermere and four other formerly affiliated entities, Windermere administrators and trustees sold 943 acres of the 1,300-acre property to National City Bank of the Midwest in 2005 as part of a loan-restructuring plan to cover Wilderness Creek, the first phase of a long-range expansion plan.

Windermere, The Baptist Home, the Missouri Baptist Foundation, Missouri Baptist University and Word & Way had each changed its governing documents to allow each to elect its own trustees. In 2002, the MBC filed a lawsuit in Cole County to regain control of them. It lost against Windermere and voluntarily dismissed Word & Way.

The late William R. Jester purchased the 943 acres through his Windermere Development Company Inc. of Springfield in March 2006. Jester, through the private company, intended to develop the area to fit into the center’s long-range plan that dated from 1992.

Jester’s development plan included townhouses, villas, condominiums, private residences and commercial areas. Construction of a retirement facility also had been considered.

The convention filed a lawsuit against Windermere in Camden County, where the property is located, in an effort to stop all land transactions pending the outcome of the Cole County legal action. At that time, the MBC also requested an injunction to prohibit Jester from financing and beginning construction on the property. The MBC lost its legal action in Camden County to reclaim Windermere.

But in 2010, Windermere Development filed bankruptcy to halt a foreclosure sale on the acreage. At that time, its creditors included Consolidated Mortgage, National City Bank, Allstate Consultants, the Camden County Collector of Revenue and CM Capital Services.

According to news reports, the MBC bought 970 acres from mortgage holder Desert Capital REIT, an investor loss recovery center, for $1.6 million. The reports note the land is valued at $11.7 million. The Baptist Foundation of Oklahoma is financing the purchase for the MBC, news sources noted. Reports also indicated Desert Capital REIT approached the MBC Executive Board about selling the land.

The board apparently will recommend to Missouri Baptists a plan for using the property. The reports do not indicate how soon that might happen.

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