MADEIRA BEACH – In a move meant to head off a foreclosure action, Hubbard Properties President and CFO Patricia Hubbard announced Thursday that the company’s Hubbard Properties division had filed for federal bankruptcy protection under Chapter 11.
A major property owner in John’s Pass Village, the longtime family business is the landlord to such well-known tenants as The Friendly Fisherman restaurant, Hubbard’s Marina, Bubba Gump’s Shrimp Company and the soon-to-be-opened Hooters.
Hubbard said the company was making the move “to buy time.”
“We want the courts to tell the landlord to ‘wait a minute, you are not getting the property yet,’” she said. “This buys us time to reorganize.”
The move was not something the company had been planning for a long time, Hubbard indicated. She said Hubbard Properties had gotten the foreclosure notice in December and “after much consideration we decided (the reorganization filing) is the best way to fight for our property.”
The Hubbard family has been a major player at John’s Pass since Patricia Hubbard’s parents, Wilson and Lorraine Hubbard, moved Hubbard’s Marina from Pass-a-Grille in the mid-1970s.
The family operation today includes Patricia’s brother Mark, who runs the marina, and sister Kathleen McDole who manages the Friendly Fisherman restaurant on the boardwalk.
The company had a major expansion in 2004 with the construction of a parking garage and added tenant space. The addition of Bubba Gump Shrimp Company in 2008 virtually filled the complex.
However, troubles loomed for the debt-laden company with the stock market and economic collapse in 2008. The John’s Pass Village businesses were heavily dependent on the tourist industry, which was especially hard hit.
“It all went downhill from there,” Hubbard said, with tenants bailing out and revenue declining. Then, the oil spill disaster hit in the spring of last year.
The company, however, has seen a recent turnaround.
“We have turned the corner and are no longer sinking,” Hubbard said.
If an undisclosed prospective major tenant joins Hooters, which is scheduled to open in mid-February, she said the Hubbard complex will be 100 percent leased.
Hubbard said she is frustrated the lender decided to proceed with foreclosure proceedings just when the company is getting to a point of stabilization.
“It is our opinion and the opinion of our attorneys that the lender is unfair to pull the plug at this time, after all the work we’ve done and the progress we have made. By moving for foreclosure, they have forced us to file for reorganization,” she said.
The Hubbard businesses will continue normal operation during any reorganization effort, Hubbard stressed.