Settling Debts

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Creditors are still waiting for their money months after the collapse of Benchmark Homes. An auction was held Thursday to help clear the books of some of that debt.

Benchmark homes populate the Saddlebrook subdivision in northwest Omaha and 178 lots were up for sale as a total package Thursday. The same happened for three other subdivisions.

A total of $25 million worth of property was put on the auction block as a way to pay off millions of dollars in bills.

Homeowner Scott Drown says he always thought of Benchmark as a good homebuilder and a good company to deal with.

"It's sad it's come to this," he said.

Drown showed up to find out who will be taking over his subdivision because he says the condition of the development has deteriorated and he says it's, "not the place it once was."

Benchmark Homes unraveled earlier this year after the suicide of company president Jack Czerwinski in February. Hundreds of contractors filed millions of dollars worth of liens to protect their interests.

In the course of the bankruptcy, the court ordered the land auction.

Scott Drown hopes a new owner for his subdivision will mean improvements for his neighborhood.

"I hope the new owner is somebody who cares about the property," he said.

No one but the bank that owned the loan bid on the Saddlebrook property so the owner will be First National Bank. The bank will likely resell the property.

Thursday's auction raised more than $12.5 million -- half the market value. All of that money will go toward paying back the banks.

The auction involved land only. There are 140 Benchmark Homes in various stages of completion. The court-ordered trustee plans to sell-off the finished homes and then finish the rest and put up for sale signs.


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