Unsold Anson House condos head for foreclosure

Anson House is near Laurens and Concord streets, between Union Pier and the S.C. Aquarium.

A private auction last year didn’t do the trick. Maybe a court-supervised public bidding session this month will finally spur the sale of the last batch of unsold units at a luxury condominium just south of the S.C. Aquarium.

Charleston County Master-in-Equity Mikell Scarborough is scheduled to put the remaining Anson House residences on the block at an April 16 foreclosure hearing.

That is likely to set the stage for a more conventional follow-up sales campaign by Anson Carolina LLC, the group that owns the mortgage.

At a foreclosure sale, the lender typically submits a “credit bid” using what it’s owed as currency. That sets the minimum price, and competing bidders rarely top those offers. If that turns out to be the case, the seven unsold units will go to Anson Carolina with clear titles after a lengthy journey through the legal system.

The $40 million project at 2 Laurens St. was built by Wharfside Associates LCC. It hit the market in 2007, just as demand for $1 million-plus condos began to slump. It’s been under a black financial cloud since 2010, when the developer died and Bank of America filed a foreclosure lawsuit seeking repayment of about $10 million. At that time, 18 of the 32 residences were empty and unsold.

Afterward, some creditors sought to force Wharfside Associates into bankruptcy, but they eventually settled. Bank of America agreed to try a private auction at the City Maritime Center last May, when 15 units were available, but every bid was rejected as too low. The Charlotte-based lender sold its note to Anson Carolina in the fall.

A notice for the April 16 foreclosure auction shows the judgment is about $8.98 million, but that figure may be outdated. A court document shows the total unpaid debt is actually closer to $4.3 million.

Anson Carolina is registered to attorney Charles Ailstock, who also is manager of the company. Ailstock’s ties to Anson House go back more than five years. He is part of a company that acquired all of the membership units in Wharfside Associates in October 2010. He also had an indirect interest in the company that sold the land under Anson House to Wharfside Associates in 2007, according to a court document. Ailstock did not return a phone message left at his home last week.

Ted Turner, once known as “Captain Outrageous” and the “Mouth of the South,” will be the biggest fish in the tank this month. The 74-year-old CNN founder is being feted by and at the S.C. Aquarium in Charleston on April 27 for his efforts to protect the environment.

The highlight of the $300 per-person Oceans Gala fundraiser will be the presentation of the aquarium’s annual Environmental Stewardship Award to the billionaire media mogul and philanthropist.

Turner said in a statement last week that he was “deeply honored” by the recognition.

“South Carolina is a very special place for my family, and we strive to be good stewards of the land locally and globally,” he said. “It’s crucial that we work to save everything, from our oceans and wildlife to our rainforests and marshlands. A healthy planet is the most important gift we can give to our children and grandchildren.”

Previous recipients of the award include oceanographer, author and undersea explorer Sylvia Earle. sweetgrass basket weaver Mary Jackson. former Vice President Al Gore and the Mepkin Abbey monastery.

In addition to launching CNN and pioneering the 24-hour news cycle, Turner founded Turner Broadcasting System and cable station WTBS. As a philanthropist, he is known for his $1 billion gift that created the United Nations Foundation.

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Turner has extensive land holdings along the South Carolina coast and at least one family connection in the Charleston area: Son Teddy Turner, a former 1st Congressional District candidate, lives in Mount Pleasant.

Most major airlines offer wireless Internet access on some or all of their aircraft. But now airlines are battling over which has the fastest Wi-Fi at 35,000 feet in the air.

New York-based JetBlue Airways, which started service at Charleston International in February, recently announced that later this year it plans to offer its passengers a satellite-based Wi-Fi service that is “significantly faster” than other onboard Wi-Fi, according to a report in The Los Angeles Times.

Airline executives showed investors a demonstration that suggested its new Internet service, powered by Excede, was more than twice as fast as three Wi-Fi competitors’.

Robin Hayes, the airline’s chief commercial officer, said JetBlue may offer the service free for most passengers but charge those who want to stream movies and other such entertainment. “We are going to find a way, if we can, of keeping it free for the long term, and we have some ideas of trying to make that happen,” he told the Times.

One idea, Hayes said, is to require passengers to join JetBlue’s frequent-flier program to use the Wi-Fi.