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Long Beach : Oil Man Misses Deadline to Buy Pacific Coast Club

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A Louisiana oil man did not complete a $7.3-million purchase of the Pacific Coast Club that had been scheduled for Wednesday under terms of an October agreement approved by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

Bankruptcy court trustee James Stang said, “I am not anticipating a closing in early January,” but declined comment on why Earl M. Harter Jr. of Shreveport had not complied with the deadline for buying the historic landmark, a turreted, towered structure on Ocean Boulevard that once was a gathering place for the city’s elite but has been condemned by the city as an earthquake hazard.

Stang said Harter also has not paid the full $250,000 deposit that had been required by the court. “They have paid a portion of it,” he said. Harter had to pay $100,000 to an escrow fund to bid on the building.

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Stang refused comment on whether the Harter deal had fallen through and repeated telephone calls to Harter, his son, David, and other family representatives were not returned.

However, others familiar with the transaction who asked to remain unidentified said the Harters are trying to bring in a partner to help finance the transaction. David Harter has said he needed to commission studies before deciding whether to renovate the club or raze it and build condominiums on the site, just east of downtown.

The club’s current owner, Beverly Hills developer Josef Janota, had planned to spend $12 million to $18 million to recondition the building, but became embroiled in legal battles while the structure decayed. When the mortgage-holder tried to foreclose in 1983, Janota declared bankruptcy. He is to receive any money left over from sale of the building after more than $3 million in debts are paid.

It was not clear Wednesday what resulting court action would be taken. Geraldine Walsh, manager of bankruptcy court services, said the judge could grant an extension, issue a contempt-of-court order or take any number of other steps. Walsh said she also had been alerted that appeals to the closing might be filed this week.

Richard Moneymaker, attorney for the mortgage-holder, Bellevue Corp., said “My guess is that they will try to salvage something” to complete the Harter transaction. If the purchase isn’t completed “within a reasonable amount of time,” Moneymaker said Bellevue will try again to foreclose.

Bellevue would be willing to sell the building at a lower price to recoup the more than $1.5 million it is owed, he said.

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