Below is the full statement from John Mannone
[WWL-TV asked 'about your role with (Michael) Samuel's South of Fifth project. You started So5 609 LLC in Florida, and your Matrix Capital worked with investors in the project. Maybe you can explain how you got involved in that and what happened when the foreclosure happened?']
So5 609 LLC and Matrix Capital all relate to a luxury condo development called South of Fifth which was sponsored by Michael Samuel's Company. Matrix Capital was an administrator of an investment, whereby Samuel sold a portion of his equity in his South of Fifth Project to investors. I was the managing member of Matrix Capital and my role was to make sure that the transaction between the investors and Samuel complied with State and Federal Laws, as well as, all funds being properly disbursed in accordance with the agreements. I must stress that Adam Swickle or myself did not engage in sales, Matrix Capital role was to accept investments under the prescribed rules and regulations governing financial subscriptions.
So5 609 LLC was an entity established for the purchase of one of the condo units at South of Fifth, which included a small group of investors.
As you are probably aware, Samuel's did not realize a profit on the South of Fifth project. While he finished the construction, when the housing bubble hit, he lost his condo buyers. His company subsequently defaulted on his financing and lost the property in foreclosure.
With regard to Matrix Capital, the investment contract did provide for a personal guarantee that Mr. Samuel's disavowed based on his interpretation of the guarantee. Unfortunately, Matrix Capital was not able to legally enforce the guarantee and had to remove ourselves from management, because we were in a fiduciary capacity and were conflicted out among the investors and Samuel.
With regard to So5 609, we did successfully litigate a partial settlement against Samuel and subsequently his lender on a partial recovery of our contract down payment. The proceeds of the settlement were then distributed pro rata amongst the investors in accordance with our operating agreement.
[WWL-TV asked: 'I also want to know your role with the following firms: 1. DTA Holdings; 2. BEC Holding; 3. Brownfield Equity Co.; 4. Brownfield Capital.']
I have nothing to do with the companies listed below, except that: (1) I did form DTA Holdings and Brownfield Capital in a legal capacity, and (2) Brownfield Capital was formed with the intention of a joint venture with Adam Swickle in a future project, however this has not happened.
[BEC Holding is a Florida company registered to Adam Swickle, under his home address and 'c/o Brownfield Equity Co.' When emailing Mannone and Swickle's NOLA Development Partners, the email automatically forwards to BrownfieldFunding.com, the website for Brownfield Equity Co.]
Market Street Property and Samuel & Fisher
[WWL-TV asked: 'When Mr. Samuel brought you and Mr. Swickle into the Market Street project, what did you see as the opportunity in bringing it through bankruptcy?']
At the time Samuel introduced us to Market Street, Adam and I were still enamored by his reputation.
Keep in mind that we had conducted extensive due diligence into his projects and background. He was a major private developer with several projects under his belt and sponsoring one of the largest developments in the south at the time. Samuel and his partner, Fisher, were eager for money and were willing to offer a minority membership in their New Orleans' project. Between Samuel's credentials on a project and his financial modeling, the proposal made sense and warranted acquiring the minority interest being offered.
I can't disclose much more of what happened because of my confidentially agreement, but despite our infusion of capital, the company was extremely short on funds. The public records of the Court proceedings and trial transcripts clearly explain why we went into bankruptcy and how the reorganization revitalized the project and company.
[WWL-TV asked: 'How are you and your partners going to make your money on this deal (given that you've put hundreds of thousands of dollars into it (according to your unsecured claim) and all of the proceeds of a sale are pretty much earmarked for the DIP Financing and the Market Street Trust Claim)?']
What my investors expect from us is to transfer the reigns of this development to the highest possible bidder, and in the process repay our lender and make a profit. Understand, our investors came to us to fight for control of this project and save their investment. Like our investors, our lender has placed tremendous faith in us. We owe it them to continue working for that goal, and I will continue to do so until they withdraw their faith.
Notwithstanding this, I am personally confident that our property will undergo a major development, the work that we have done in the pre development stage has set the momentum for this to happen.
The need for it has been demonstrated by our research, and the support we have received has been impressive. At the moment, we have interest from two national real estate developers, a major retailer, and at least one production company. The ultimate form of the development will depend on what the market calls for, and the intrinsic needs of the city and the community it serves. But with or without Market Street, the train has left the station and a major development will happen.
Our Company has operated in a fully open manner under the scrutiny of the Court and US Trustee. We have never claimed to be real estate developers, billionaires, political insiders, have proper pedigree or whatever preordained qualifications some believe you must have in order to dare to attempt to execute a real estate project of this magnitude. For over 40 years, those who have attempted to develop this power plant have failed.
Under my friend's leadership our company has steadfastly worked on this project for many years, and in that time, have achieved a series of successes. To date, we have repaid our investor's with a successful litigation against those who attempted to disenfranchise them, hired highly qualified real estate people to bring our property to market, reached out to this City, to both its leaders and to the community, and lifted this company out of bankruptcy. Now, I believe that we can bring forth something new to this city that will lead to more jobs and increase tax revenue that will service the City and its residents.
Like the City itself, we have struggled and overcome impossible odds to reach the point where we are now, and this project owes a great deal to Adam Swickle's leadership and tenacity to see us through this far. I hold no illusions that his character is both enigmatic and eccentric, much like New Orleans, but I firmly believe that it is precisely those qualifications that will lead us to overcome the odds against our bold endeavor.
Long after our Company is forgotten, the transformation of the riverfront will happen, and I will know that our little contribution caused that too occur. Your viewers have a choice to embrace our efforts and support us in achieving something worthwhile for this City, or shun us for believing that we can. The choice is theirs to make. Thank you.