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Monday, June 30, 2014

Investors sue Wild West buyer

BY BILL WILSON
The Wichita Eagle

A group of Park City investors has filed suit against Wild West World's buyer over a failed real estate deal.

Park City Investment Group claims that Art Gordon LLC of Maitland, Fla., one of Wild West World buyer Alan Ginsburg's companies, defaulted on a contract to buy 10 business lots adjacent to the defunct theme park.

The lawsuit was filed June 2 in Sedgwick County District Court.

Ginsburg and his main corporation, AHG Group, are listed as managers of Art Gordon on the Florida secretary of state's website.

The petition claims that Art Gordon entered into an installment contract on Jan. 26, 2010, to buy the land.

The contract called for a $25,000 earnest money payment and an extension fee of $15,000, all prior to March 15, 2010.

The deal also called for payment of a $7,500 extension fee before April 15, 2010.

None of the payments were made, the petition alleges.

Mike Herd, the Wichita attorney representing the Park City investors, declined to comment on the case.

Ginsburg did not return a call seeking comment.

AHG Group won the theme park in June 2008 with a $2.15 million bid in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wichita.

Doug Spangler, representing AHG at the time, immediately announced the group's intent to reopen the park, but negotiations for an operator fell through as the economy worsened.

The park and its adjacent property, north of Wichita on I-135, immediately were tied to gaming, since Ginsburg owns several corporations active in American Indian gaming across the country.

The park land is connected to a 10.5-acre rectangle owned by the Wyandotte Tribe, enough for a casino but insufficient for parking and other entertainment development.

In February, Billy Friend, second chief of the Wyandotte Tribe, told The Eagle that a casino could open on the site later this year if the tribe's application to have the U.S. Department of the Interior put its 10.5 acres in Park City into trust for gambling purposes is approved. However, no action has been taken.

Wild West World was opened by May 2007 by Thomas Etheredge. The park closed two months later, with Etheredge blaming poor weather and construction cost overruns.

Etheredge was convicted of securities fraud in 2010 for defrauding investors in the theme park. He was sentenced to five years in jail.

Reach Bill Wilson at 316-268-6290 or bwilson@wichitaeagle.com.

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