Foreclosure puts Washington Building on auction block; Miller Davis owner trying to work with bank

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 19, 2012

By Emily Ford
SALISBURY — CommunityOne Bank has foreclosed on Miller Davis Development, and the historic Washington Building at 118 N. Main St. goes up for public sale Aug. 21 at the Rowan County Courthouse.
The Rowan County Clerk of Court’s Office signed the foreclosure order Wednesday after a brief hearing.
Mike Miller, owner of the building and Miller Davis Inc., Salisbury’s largest advertising and public relations firm, said he is working with CommunityOne on “various options” so he can keep the building.
Miller said he could not give details but hoped to have something worked out with the bank within 30 days. CommunityOne’s attorney would not comment.
Miller said separate from his development company, the Miller Davis advertising firm is financially sound and has roughly 300 clients nationwide.
“The agency is fine,” he said. “We are financially stable and making payroll.”
Miller Davis Development, which owns the Washington Building, defaulted on a $1.2 million loan from CommunityOne.
Miller said the entire loan was for the building, which has a tax value of $516,664. He described the situation as a “bad real estate deal,” similar to real estate problems faced by developers across the county and tied to the economic downturn.
“Unfortunately, it’s a situation that I didn’t create. I didn’t create it on purpose,” he said. “It’s just a situation we’re all in with real estate right now.”
Clerk of Court Jeff Barger said this is the first time he can remember foreclosing on a historic building in downtown Salisbury.
While no details were discussed during the hearing, Barger said sometimes public sales are avoided with new financial arrangements with a bank.
“It does happen that the person being foreclosed on is able to work something out, whether a modification or a refinance or something similar,” Barger said.
Miller has until Aug. 31, or 10 days after the sale, to come up with a way to keep the building, Barger said. Then the upset bid period expires.
Miller Davis Inc. is the largest tenant in the Washington Building. Miller restored the building in 2003 and 2004 and also leases space to the new Ethos restaurant.
The original promissory note from CommunityOne for $1,242,544 was secured by the deed of trust in June 2011. The loan included a line of credit.
With interest, fees and late charges, Miller Davis Development now owes the bank $1,269,109.
Miller Davis Development, Miller Davis Inc., Miller and his wife, Gina Miller, are named in a related lawsuit filed by CommunityOne on June 14 in Mecklenburg County Superior Court. The lawsuit includes defaults on the $1.2 million loan, a $20,000 loan dated May 2009 and a $50,000 loan dated June 2009.
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.