Scores of creditors affected, as Harford-based developer Clark Turner files for bankruptcy

Builder developer Clark Turner, shown speaking during his 2013 induction to the Havre de Grace High School Hall of Fame, has filed for bankruptcy along with one of his companies.
Builder developer Clark Turner, shown speaking during his 2013 induction to the Havre de Grace High School Hall of Fame, has filed for bankruptcy along with one of his companies. (AEGIS FILE PHOTO / Baltimore Sun)

Clark Turner, a prominent homegrown builder and developer, who not only played a big part in changing the Harford County landscape in the housing booms of the 1980s and '90s, but also was active through and since the collapse in 2008, has filed for bankruptcy.

Turner filed for Chapter 7 personal bankruptcy protection, and Clark Turner Homes LLC, a business he controlled , has likewise filed for Chapter 7 protection.

In the voluntary filings with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Baltimore on Nov. 12, Turner personally stated he has estimated assets of $1 million to $10 million and estimated liabilities of from $50 million to $100 million.


Clark Turner Homes LLC stated it has assets between $1 million and $10 million and liabilities in that same range. Clark Turner is listed as the limited liability company's general partner.

The personal bankruptcy filing lists 36 creditors, including banks, credit card companies, the Internal Revenue Service, the City of Havre de Grace, Harford County's Bureau of Revenue Collections, building suppliers, development partnerships and a few individuals, including Allen Fair, a Havre de Grace businessman with whom Turner has had a long standing friendship, and Turner's ex-wife Deborah Moxley Turner, from whom he was divorced in June 2008, according to court records.

The filing for Clark Turner Homes LLC lists more than 140 creditors, among them vendors, suppliers, subcontractors, utilities, accounting firms, insurance companies, engineering firms, banks, the City of Havre de Grace, Harford County's Bureau of Revenue Collections and Deborah Turner.

Neither filing lists specific assets or amounts owed to individual creditors.

In Chapter 7 filings, company or individual liquidates assets to pay off creditors, after which companies in most instances go out of business.


It couldn't be learned what other business entities Clark Turner may be involved with; however, his company's website lists homesites available in Harford, Baltimore and Cecil counties.

Turner, who has an office in the Water's Edge Corporate Campus that he developed in Belcamp, couldn't be reached for comment. Nor could the lawyer handling both bankruptcies, James Vidmar, of Columbia.

Talking with an Aegis staff member in August, Turner said he had scaled back some of his business activities because of the continued softness in the region's home-building industry and following a personal health scare requiring surgery that was successful.

He said he was concentrating on "small, unique projects," a few lots or single homes, mainly in Baltimore County because, he said, the permit and water and sewer connection fees were less onerous than those in Harford County.

In July, Turner entered the high bid of $618,000 at public auction for a 2.85-acre property with a historic brick home in Bel Air. According to tax records, the property was transferred to an entity called Tollgate LLC on Nov. 9, but it could not be learned if Turner still has any involvement.

A native of Havre de Grace, Turner started out in the late 1970s by building single homes and renovating properties.

During a countywide housing boom that followed in the mid-1980s, he became a major presence as a builder and developer in the greater Bel Air area and elsewhere in Harford, as well as in western Cecil County.

Working together, Clark and Deborah Turner, also developed and built office properties, renovated several buildings in downtown Bel Air and undertook the redevelopment of the former Bata Shoe complex, that became the Waters Edge community. The couple separated in 2003, however, and it took five years for their divorce case to move through the courts. The property settlement was ordered sealed by the court, according to records.

Since the Turner divorce, there have been three instances in which Deborah Turner has gone to court to collect overdue alimony. In 2009 and 2013, Clark Turner satisfied judgments for back alimony and interest, according to court records. A third judgment, entered on July 29, 2015, for $150,000 in taxable alimony and $61,500 in non-taxable alimony due July 1, 2015, had not been satisfied as of Tuesday, according to court records.

Clark Turner was a member of the partnership that developed the Residences at Bulle Rock in Havre de Grace. He also developed a residential community on the former Beechtree Golf Course outside of Aberdeen, initially financed using a 30-year, $14 million tax increment finance bond, or TIF, issued by the county in 2011 and backed with property tax revenue generated by the homes. According to the latest county financial report, all payments are current on the bond, which is not backed by the county.

In the City of Aberdeen, however, Turner had a public works agreement to complete all utilities, streets and street lighting in a development named Winston's Choice, once all homes were built, and a substantial punch list of uncompleted remains, according to a brief written report Public Works Director Kyle Torster provided the Mayor and City Council Monday.

The report states the city has been notified by a third party, Pax Edwards Management, of "a potential default" by Turner. Torster said the next step will be to meet with the city's lawyer "to begin the process of contacting the bonding company for non-compliance of the [public works agreement]." The report notes there will be "a lengthy process" involved.

Turner homes and developments were recipients of numerous awards from state and regional building and development trade organizations and for good reason, according to William Cox Jr., a Bel Air-based builder and developer.

"Clark was really ahead of his time as a builder," Cox said. "He really had an eye for those little things that made a great home, particularly something the younger buyers wanted."

Cox said he was saddened by the bankruptcy filing, noting his friendship with Turner goes back more than 40 years and he had sold Turner lots for some of the first homes Turner built in Bel Air.


But, Cox also said he understands the difficulty anyone involved in the home-building and development business has faced in the current economic climate.

"The past eight years have been the worst I've ever seen," he said.

Aegis staff member Bryna Zumer contributed to this story.

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