Anne Gibson

Property editor of the NZ Herald

Former Auckland developer US scheme

Lily Zhong.
Lily Zhong.

Former Auckland apartment developer Lily Zhong is planning a US$380 million ($436 million) scheme to develop commercial and residential units on vacant land in Florida.

Zhong has bought the foreclosed City Center land in Port St. Lucie, just under three hours' drive from Miami.

Local publication the Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers has reported how the Chinese entrepreneur plans to start building the shopping, dining and residential scheme next year.

But it also noted Herald reports in 2006 of Zhong's Winsun Developments not repaying $5 million it owed to Hanover Finance to build a 14-level, 153-unit apartment complex in Auckland.

By 2007, Zhong's company owed $9 million to the finance firm.

Before liquidation, Zhong built the apartments and sold 61 units. Her company failed to sell the remaining 93 units, which were rented out predominantly to foreign students on a short-term basis.

It also did not repay its loan. Winsun was placed into voluntary liquidation in October 2007. Zhong's creditors never collected from her, instead they held the country's largest mortgagee apartment sale in 2007 on the unsold units.

Another of Zhong's New Zealand companies, Winning Investments, was to develop apartments over the Fitzroy, an historic Auckland hotel.

The 2008 plans never came to fruition because the city's council rejected the controversial scheme to build "shoe-box" size apartments.

- NZ Herald

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