Bill Levy, once a high-flying star in Santa Barbara financial and real estate circles, made the California Franchise Board’s list of top 250 tax deadbeats for the year 2007, reportedly delinquent to the tune of $1 million.
Levy is best known for his Entrada de Santa Barbara time-share condo proposal for lower State Street, for which he declared bankruptcy two years ago. The site now sits as an incomplete construction site – one block big – by State and Mason streets, the subject of vexation by neighbors and embarrassment by city officials. By the time Levy had secured all the necessary city and state permits to build Entrada, the economy had hit the post-9/11 doldrums and he’d accumulated so much debt on the property that he had great difficulty wooing investors and partners.
For many years, he held out hope that Ritz-Carlton would step in as operator of the time-share condos. This, in turn, would help revitalize a portion of lower State Street that for many decades had been of little interest to real estate investors or speculators. Ultimately, none of this materialized and Levy was forced to borrow $25 million from Mountain Funding, a private lender specializing in working with developers in distress. By the time Levy declared bankruptcy, he owed Mountain Funding $40 million. Mountain Funding now owns the project and its permits, and is hoping to persuade City Hall to make significant changes in design which company officials contend will make the project more economically viable. In the meantime, Mountain Funding has installed a new, green, wooden fence around the construction site at the urging of city officials and Tony Romasanta, an irate neighboring property owner.