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Van Tuyl group asked to take over the failed West Edge project

An investment group led by businessman Cecil Van Tuyl has been asked to take over the West Edge development after the winning bidder apparently failed to meet a Tuesday deadline, an attorney said today.

R. Pete Smith, the attorney representing Trilogy Development Co., the bankrupt owner of the project, said an investment group led by RED Development, which submitted the high bid of $10 million in late August, failed to deposit the entire purchase amount by the end of the working day.

Smith said Trilogy is now asking Van Tuyl’s group, which submitted a $9.5 million bid at the August auction, to move forward with completing its purchase of the mixed-use project at 48th Street and Belleview Avenue. Work halted on the West Edge two years ago with the development about 70 percent finished.

“We don’t want to lose our backup buyer,” Smith said. “We’re going to proceed to close with our backup buyer, and we expect to close in the next day or two.”

Whether the RED group missed its deadline remains unclear.

The winning bidder failed to meet a Sept. 30 deadline to close on the project, according to the contract approved by a federal bankruptcy judge, but then had a 10-day “grace” period to resolve any problems.

Smith said a default notice was sent to RED after that Sept. 30 deadline was missed, but there are various ways to interpret the 10-day grace period. Many observers believe Tuesday was the deadline, and when RED failed to deposit the full amount of the purchase, Smith said his client decided to turn to Van Tuyl.

The attorney said if RED, which is continuing to pursue the project, believes it has more time to complete the deal, it can ask Judge Dennis Dow of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for Western Missouri to decide.

If RED “believes it should be allowed to close by today, it will require a motion from the judge to order that,” Smith said.

RED officials declined to comment on Smith’s decision that they had failed to meet the deadline. Attempts to reach Dow or members of his staff for clarification on the deadline were unsuccessful.

One of Van Tuyl’s partners in his West Edge bid, businessman B.B. Andersen, said his group will decline comment until the situation is resolved.

“We don’t have any comment right now because it’s in the hands of the court,” Andersen said. “We don’t want to do anything to interfere.”

The West Edge project was to be the home of Bernstein-Rein advertising. The major elements are a 203,000-square-foot office building, 131-room hotel and 1,000-space garage. Trilogy, the development entity established by Bob Bernstein, declared bankruptcy in May 2009.

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