Orrin Thiessen, the bankrupt developer who built Windsor's Town Green Village, is offering to surrender the remaining vestiges of his once-extensive real estate holdings to clear away debts that once totaled nearly $22 million.
Unsecured creditors, who are owed $3.6 million, would receive about 10 cents on the dollar, according to "rough estimates" in a debt restructuring plan filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court last week.
Secured creditors, who were owed $18 million when Thiessen declared bankruptcy last July, are entitled to the developer's remaining buildings and land.
When the case is completed, Thiessen and his wife, Terri, will have given up nearly three dozen properties, most of them located near the Town Green, a popular Windsor gathering space for concerts, plays and other community events.
Lenders already have taken back some of the properties through foreclosure and eventually all of them will be given up to satisfy the secured debt, Thiessen and his bankruptcy attorney said Monday.
"They've surrendered all the properties," said Michael Fallon, a Santa Rosa bankruptcy attorney. "So all his real estate is gone."
The plan must be approved by creditors. A hearing is scheduled March 9.
In bankruptcy negotiations, the couple had sought loan modifications so they could keep their income-producing commercial properties in Windsor — an approach similar to an underwater homeowner seeking lower mortgage payments.
"Not one of the banks would work with us," Thiessen said.
The couple already has sold their West County home, Thiessen said. But their construction business continues to produce income through landscaping, interior design and refurbishing projects.
"We're still working and still happy and still healthy," Thiessen said. "If I didn't have any work, it would be pretty scary."
The national real estate collapse caused a reversal of fortune for several of the county's major players. Prominent landowner Clem Carinalli and developer Wendell "Del" Nordby each were forced to file for bankruptcy protection, as was residential builder Pinnacle Homes.
Christopherson Homes, once the county's largest homebuilder, lost two partially completed subdivisions in southeast Santa Rosa in 2010 to a foreclosure auction and a court-ordered sale.
Thiessen first came to public attention in the 1990s by buying and dramatically upgrading some ramshackle storefronts in the heart of Graton. But his signature project came in 2001 in Windsor. Around the three-acre Town Green, Thiessen relied on Victorian and European themes as he constructed a mixed-use development that featured storefronts on the ground floors with residential condominiums above.
In Windsor he eventually built more than 270 residential dwellings and 100 commercial units for shops, restaurants and offices.
At one point, Thiessen said Monday, he owned about $70 million worth of real estate and owed lenders about $35 million. He had plans to build more mixed-use developments in Cotati and Forestville.
But the economic downturn that began nearly six years ago wiped Thiessen out, according to court filings. He found himself with condos he couldn't sell, projects he couldn't complete and real estate debt he couldn't repay.
New filings last week placed the couple's various assets at $537,700. Thiessen said he will ask the court to let him "just keep enough cash on hand to run our business."
The reorganization plan proposes to pay the unsecured creditors a total of about $350,000, including an initial payment of $150,000 and another $120,000 paid out over the next five years.