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Gillioz dodges foreclosure, hits bankruptcy trail

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Though the Springfield Landmarks Preservation Trust failed to meet negotiations with Guaranty Bank and instead filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, the Gillioz Theatre will continue as an entertainment venue for the time being.

Dave Roling, Springfield Landmarks Preservation Trust president, said an offer was extended to Guaranty on Dec. 30 that the trust hoped would ward off foreclosure.

Guaranty, Roling said, came back with a figure that was higher than it had been before.

"That counteroffer was in excess of any prior indication of what it would take to basically accomplish short sale of the property and set aside the note," Roling said. "It was very perplexing, disappointing and frustrating."

The trust presented the more than $1 million initial pledge, and community donations representing approximately $180,000, which included two $75,000 pledges, in hopes of satisfying the $3.5 million debt owed to the bank.

"We were trying to be very professional and representing only an offer that we in fact could produce and accomplish based upon where we were at. Had they responded with what we believe would have been a productive and reasonable counteroffer, we would have told the community and all the prospective donors and entities willing to pledge money," Roling said, noting his belief that a lower counteroffer would have been met with the needed community donation response.

"When (Guaranty) came forward with a figure much higher than any previous indication given to us, it all seemed quite apparent that our only recourse was Chapter 11 bankruptcy," he said.

Roling declined to say how much the offer and counteroffer figures were.

Guaranty Bank officials could not be reached before deadline.

The trust filed for the bankruptcy later that day with David Schroeder of David Schroeder Law Offices PC as its attorney.

Now, the trust has until April 29 to submit a reorganization plan that would allow the trust to maintain ownership of the Gillioz and Netters Building.

Roling said he doesn't know what the reorganization plan will entail at this time, but the trust will be meeting with Schroeder Jan. 5 to discuss more specific details.

In the meantime, the Gillioz will continue shows and other entertainment avenues. Roling said he is hopeful the reorganization plan will allow the historic theater to continue providing to the community.

"We are in the black for the first time in our history, and we've made significant revenue achievements, more than doubling our revenue in 2010 over 2009," he said. "We cut expenses dramatically, and we've established credibility."

The "Save the Gillioz" fund facilitated by Community Foundation of the Ozarks has been kept open, and donations made during the two-week fundraiser will be kept in tact if their use is required, Roling said.

The anonymous pledgers to the project are not obligated to pay now that the trust did not meet its goal, but Roling said he believes the people behind them will resurface if the theater needs them.

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