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Mendocino Coast inn set to be sold Friday at foreclosure sale; co-owner accused of tax evasion

  • PC: Photo by Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat The Carousel guest residence of the Heritage House Inns, near Little River, overlooks a cove.

    10/5/2004: A13: The Carousel guest residence of Heritage House overlooks a cove.

The historic Heritage House resort on the rugged Mendocino Coast is closing today and is scheduled to be auctioned off Friday in a foreclosure sale.

The exclusive getaway, located just south of the seaside town of Mendocino in Little River, has been in financial turmoil for months. It is currently operating under court-ordered receivership.

In addition, the Mendocino County District Attorney's Office has stepped up its prosecution of one of the resort's co-owners, David Wilk, on tax evasion charges. Prosecutors allege Wilk stole $380,000 in bed taxes owed to the county.

The sale of the 37-acre Heritage House resort would bring an end to a relatively brief but troubled chapter in its storied history, which began more than 60 years ago with the conversion of an 1877 farmhouse into one of the Mendocino Coast's first inns.

It has since grown into an acclaimed seaside getaway with 66 units featuring upgraded cottages with stunning coastline views, manicured lawns, fine dining and a spa. Recent rates ranged from $299 to $650 a night.

The resort was purchased in mid-2005 by Duane Werb and David Wilk under the name Lantana Mendocino LLC.

The purchase and renovations were funded by loans from a German bank totaling $24 million. But after a series of management changes, the resort got behind on its property taxes and "bed taxes" collected from guests.

After the county got a judgment in 2007, the group paid the county about $250,000 in back taxes, said tax collector Shari Schapmire.

Then in February the bank, WESTLB AG, sued Lantana Mendocino in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, alleging it defaulted on the $24 million loans.

Last month, the court appointed Nicholas Clayton, president of the Los Angeles-based Kor Hotel Group, to run the property as receiver. Court documents say the receivership will end after the foreclosure sale of the property scheduled Friday.


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