Bank forecloses on Horizon at Semiahmoo project

Published on Wed, Feb 16, 2011 by By Jeremy Schwartz

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The real estate market crash of 2007 has claimed another victim: the 145-acre planned community Horizon at Semiahmoo will go up for auction in April.

Union Bank, which holds the $43 million in unpaid loans, will put the property up for auction on April 29. The original vision for the community, where only one model home now stands, was to create a low-impact development with an emphasis on environmentally friendly architecture and storm-water management, lead developer Fred Bovenkamp said in an e-mail.

The development started in 2005, when Bovenkamp and his partners purchased the land on the west side of the Semiahmoo area from the Trillium Corporation. However, once the lots, roads and utility hookups were built in 2007, the real estate market took a dive.

After interest in the million-dollar homes slated for the lots waned, Bovenkamp proposed smaller, less expensive homes but there was no money to build models of these seaside cottages, the lack of which practically swept Horizon off the radar of most buyers.

“Virtually overnight, there were no more secondary home buyers in the market, particularly in resort and recreational communities,” Bovenkamp said.

Even after reducing the prices of the $400,000 lots by 70 percent, Bovenkamp said buyers showed little interest in the community. The only structure ever built was a model home Bovenkamp owns, appraised in 2008 at $1.3 million, a mere shadow of what the completed development could have been, he said.

“We didn’t expect the economic meltdown that transpired,” Bovenkamp said. “And we did not react quick enough to what the market instantly told us.”

Now a real estate broker with Coldwell Banker Bain in Bellevue, Bovenkamp said he has lost all his active development projects in Whatcom County to foreclosure within the last 18 months.

Though the Horizon development has proved a major setback, Bovenkamp said he still hopes a buyer will come along to complete the vision he had in 2007.

“My hope is that I can find a financial partner who appreciates the Horizon vision and the amazing uniqueness of the property so we can together finish what we started,” he said.