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San Rio property owner cries foul

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By Staff Brunswick Beacon

George Dedrick and his wife, Kay, of Gibsonville decided to buy a lot in the San Rio Ocean and River Club last July. The deal was finalized the following September.

The two had always been careful with their money, George Dedrick said, and they were looking for an investment or maybe a future retirement residence. San Rio fit the bill.

They liked the uniqueness of the plans for San Rio, off Gray Bridge Road in the Shallotte area. They knew the developers, Wakefield, had a history of good projects in other parts of the state.

Marketing for the project touted it as “tropically inspired, Carolina Caribbean, resort-style community.”

“It was different. It had a Caribbean theme. They dressed the streets up. It looked like a nice place,” Dedrick said recently.

After talking with a salesman, Dedrick believed Phase I would be well on its way to completion within two years.

“It fit our timetable,” he said.

Then, about a month-and-a-half ago, the Dedricks arranged to tour the community with a salesperson. They found one home belonging to a local builder under construction.

“Two days later I found out they ceased all [work],” Dedrick said. “It was very shocking.”

He called the number his salesperson gave him, and no one answered the phone.

“Nobody’s there now. It’s closed.”

Finally, after many calls and e-mails, Dedrick received an e-mail message from Wakefield Coastal, the developers of the project, stating the company was looking for new financing.

Dedrick said he never would have dreamed the company would run into financial trouble.

“They did everything first class,” he said.

Last Friday, the Dedricks discussed the situation with a lawyer and were told they would just have to wait it out. By June, if the infrastructure is not complete, the town will finish the work using bond money.

Now, Dedrick is angry. He doesn’t think everyone that owns property in San Rio realizes what’s going on. He says Wakefield is not telling them anything.

“We used to get emails periodically,” he said. “Now you don’t get anything at all. They’re not informing all these people.

“If I didn’t nose around the way I did, I wouldn’t know. We’re usually so careful. We’re just kicking ourselves.”

“This time next year, the bank’s going to be looking for me to be paying for it. They don’t care if there’s an outhouse on it.”

At Shallotte’s last regular board meeting, Wakefield Vice President Jim Wiseman pulled the company’s request for annexation and rezoning of Phase II of the project a week after a town alderman accused the company of poor land management.

At the July pre-agenda meeting, alderman John Kinlaw said that, because a large portion of the incomplete development is devoid of vegetation, it could result in stormwater runoff in the Shallotte River.

Kinlaw suggested the board send a letter stating the town’s concerns about runoff and silting of the river to the state Division of Land Resources. The board unanimously approved his motion, and the letter was sent two weeks later.

Wiseman said in a previous interview the town had “harassed” Wakefield ever since the project began, but Kinlaw responded that the planning board and aldermen had only been holding them to the same standards as all other applicants. He said funding issues prompted Wiseman’s decision, not his comments the previous week.

Kinlaw and Shallotte Town Administrator Paul Sabiston said the town had problems dealing with San Rio from the start, beginning with a development agreement that never materialized and climaxing with the developers getting fined for installing sewer lines without the proper state permits.

Mayor Pro Tem Buddy Kelly said recently he believes the town can still work together with Wakefield if the developers want the project to move forward.

Repeated calls to Wiseman about San Rio and Kingfish Bay in Calabash have not been returned.