FINDLAY — The owners of the long-shuttered Eagle Creek Resort at Lake Shelbyville said Monday night that they still intend to reopen the business, perhaps as early as 2014.
The resort was closed by court order in the summer of 2009 after serious mold problems were uncovered. The mold remains, said owners Dennis and Michael Ballinger, who took control of the property in 2010 but have been unable to perform any work on the resort buildings because of legal disputes with two banks over furnishings, furniture and equipment at the hotel.
But they said Monday they hope to begin mold remediation work later this year.
"Most of what (the banks) have laid a claim on, some of it has some value, but a lot doesn't really," said Dennis Ballinger, the CEO of BMDD Resorts, which took control of the resort property in 2010.
The Ballingers said they already have spent more than $1.8 million on the resort, most of it on improvements to the golf course at the resort. It continues to operate under the name The National Golf Course at Eagle Creek.
But Michael Ballinger said the golf course is losing money.
"As of right now, the golf course is not profitable because it's one of those things where the golf course has to be working with the hotel in order to get enough people in there," he said.
The Ballingers said they plan to give a new development timeline for the project to the state Department of Natural Resources, which holds the lease on the property, later this year.
They said they expect to invest more than the $3.7 million they originally estimated they'd need to spend to repair and remodel the resort. They said the mold problems at the development were worse than they had anticipated.
"We're in it to the end," said Michael Ballinger. "We'd love to see this place back up to where it ought to be. Not really what it was. We've got some ideas about some things that would really set it apart."
Asked how likely a 2014 reopening is, Dennis Ballinger said, "You have to set a goal. Yeah, I would think 2014, sometime during that year, we should be up and running."
The Ballingers spoke to about 50 people at the Tailwinds Restaurant in Findlay at a public meeting called by former Finlay Mayor Pauline Briney, who said she had been Eagle Creek's biggest booster.
"That place is my baby," she said. "I want to see it succeed."