The owner of a historic former church on Portland’s West End filed for bankruptcy Friday, the same day the building was scheduled for a foreclosure auction.
The filing by 32 Thomas Street LLC will put the foreclosure auction of the former Williston West Church on hold. In 2014, the congregation merged with Immanuel Baptist Church and moved its services to High Street.
The building was purchased in December 2011 by Frank Monsour, an Australian businessman. Monsour planned to use the first floor of a parish house as offices for his software development company, and developed five luxury condominiums. The condos were listed from $650,000 for a two-bedroom unit to $1.15 million for a three-bedroom unit, and were still being marketed in recent weeks.
The property was later rezoned to allow an office building for up to 14 people. Neighbors objected and had the rezoning overturned in court, but in 2014, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court reversed that ruling and said the rezoning was legal.
A representative of Tranzon Auction Properties, which was scheduled to conduct the foreclosure auction, confirmed that the auction was postponed because of the Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing, which allows for a reorganization of assets.
The filing lists only eight creditors with a total of about $12,000 in claims against the property, but records indicated that Monsour had taken about a $1.4 million mortgage to cover the cost of renovating the building. The bankruptcy filing lists total assets of $1 million to $10 million and liabilities in the same range.
Lindsay Milne, the bankruptcy lawyer for 32 Thomas Street, said there are two “asserted” mortgages on the property totaling about $3 million. She said the bankruptcy proceeding will determine if those mortgages are valid.
Sebastian Monsour, a relative of Frank Monsour, announced two years ago that he would buy and renovate the Saddleback ski mountain in Rangeley. But Sebastian Monsour was arrested last June in Australia and accused or defrauding a Chinese investor.