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Lender Seizes Site Of Ill-Fated Mandarin Oriental Hotel Proposed In Uptown Dallas

Embattled Dallas developer Tim Barton has officially lost control of the property he once planned to turn into a $395M luxury hotel and condo tower following a federal court’s approval of a settlement that transfers ownership to the lender.

2999 Turtle Creek Blvd. in Dallas

The site at 2999 Turtle Creek Blvd. was slated to become Dallas’ first Mandarin Oriental Hotel, but years of fraud and conspiracy allegations leveled against Barton, the owner and president of JMJ Development, ended with the property being returned to HNGH Turtle Creek LLC for $2.5M, according to the Dallas Business Journal.

The property is valued by the Dallas Central Appraisal District at $14.5M.

The contents of the office building on the site will be auctioned, per U.S. District Judge Brantley Starr’s ruling. 

Last fall, Barton was federally indicted on seven counts of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of securities fraud for allegedly convincing more than 100 Hangzhou, China-based investors to spend millions of dollars on home lots in what he described as highly sought-after areas of the Metroplex. 

Prosecutors allege those funds never went toward the purchase of land and instead were used to pay commissions — a breach of the initial loan agreement — as well as expenses related to other projects. Some early investors were repaid interest using funds from later projects, according to court filings. Barton has pleaded not guilty to the charges, per the DBJ.

The Securities and Exchange Commission also sued Barton in civil court for allegedly violating anti-fraud provisions.

Just before the indictments were handed down in September, Barton lost the Turtle Creek site in bankruptcy court after missing three loan extension deadlines, per the DBJ.

That led Starr to appoint a federal equity receiver to determine the value of all Barton-controlled properties, which include 160 corporations with a combined value of more than $70M. 

Barton’s lawyers argued the valuation was too broad and exceeded the $26.3M owed to the Chinese investors, the DBJ reported. But the SEC claimed the money was commingled with funds tied up in Barton’s other projects, an assertion upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, which ultimately paved the way for Starr’s order. Barton’s lawyers have since appealed.

If convicted on the federal charges, Barton faces up to 60 years in prison, according to the DBJ. His trial is set for February.