The "conceptual master plan" for Little River on display during a meeting of the Carthage Board of Commissioners on Feb. 15, 2021.

The "conceptual master plan" for Little River on display during a meeting of the Carthage Board of Commissioners on Feb. 15, 2021.

Developer Blaine East hopes to build a 34-acre medical complex on the Little River property in Carthage.

Addressing town commissioners on Feb. 15, East said the facility is expected to cost about $300 million and would employ more than 3,300 people. The complex, he said, would be affiliated with Dr. Charles Richardson, the co-founder of a company that makes medical devices.

“There will be a lot of people coming into this campus,” East said, adding that the facility would create a “huge tax base for our community.”

Because East and his partners were still in the process of closing on the property before the meeting, his presentation to the board was informal. No official plans have been submitted to the commissioners, who must still authorize construction of a medical facility at the site.

Founded in 1917, Little River Resort was once home to an equestrian training facility with polo grounds and a harness racing track. Carthage later bought the land and hired renowned golf course architect Dan Maples, who was born near the resort’s namesake river, to design the 18-hole course that became the property’s centerpiece.

A private developer bought the resort from the town and built several condominiums along the fairways. The developer sold the resort in 2006 to Little River Partners, a company that East was involved in.

Little River Partners sold the resort the following year to Oceanico Group, a company whose portfolio consisted mainly of golf courses in Portugal at the time.

“Our goal has always been to develop it,” East told the commissioners. “Unfortunately, my partners that were in the deal with me found that we could make a few dollars and sell it to Oceanico Group.”

Records from the Moore County Register of Deeds show that the National Asset Management Agency of Ireland assumed ownership of the property after taking over loans that Anglo Irish Bank had made to Oceanico Group, which floundered amid the global recession. ECapital Loan Fund, a private equity firm based in Fort Worth, Texas, bought the resort for $6.5 million during a public auction in April 2019 at the Moore County Courthouse.

The deal included the golf course, which has been closed since a malfunctioning pump station caused an estimated $1 million in damage to the greens in 2018. Developer David Chapman was reportedly in talks to buy Little River from ECapital Loan Fund in early 2020, but the deal never moved forward.

East has been involved in several development projects in Moore County over the years, including the Southern Pines shopping center on Brucewood Road that’s anchored by Kohl’s and Hobby Lobby. His development company, Landcore, also had been involved about seven years ago in a proposal to do an upscale mixed-use development in Pinehurst, but that project never materialized.

(1) comment

Kent Misegades

The county needs more private industry, especially manufacturing. Let free markets decide though. Do not use corporate welfare to influence any such decisions. What business leaders want most is low taxation and regulation, available land and infrastructure, and a responsible workforce with good ethics and prepared to learn. Frankly Florida is far more attractive than North Carolina in many respects, primarily the difference in governors and taxation.

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