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MetLife to Purchase Georgia’s Reynolds Plantation Resort

MetLife Inc., the largest U.S. life insurer, agreed to buy the Reynolds Plantation luxury residential golf community and resort in Greensboro, Georgia. Terms weren’t disclosed.

The resort’s Ritz-Carlton Lodge, which opened in 2002, has 251 guest rooms and a 26,000-square-foot (2,400-square-meter) spa, and its six golf courses include Great Waters, designed by Jack Nicklaus. Daniel Corp., a Birmingham, Alabama-based real estate developer, will manage the property, which is located about 70 miles (113 kilometers) east of Atlanta, MetLife said today in a statement.

“This is a premier community with world-class amenities, a great reputation and a strong future,” Robert Merck, senior managing director and head of real estate investments for New York-based MetLife.

The company, which has a $60 billion real estate portfolio, is building on a strategy of investing in and financing destination-type hotels after mortgages in the lodging industry rebounded more strongly than apartment loans.

In addition to its golf courses and Ritz-Carlton hotel, Reynolds Plantation has 3,800 residences. The 27-year-old resort, like many of its brethren, struggled to sell homes during the housing slump, and has operated under bank-appointed receivership for the past year.

The resort’s founder and owner, Greensboro, Georgia-based Linger Longer Development Co., has been trying to pay off $45 million in debt needed to renew a line of credit, according to a letter sent to members in February 2011. Linger Longer executives Mercer Reynolds III and Jamie Reynolds previously pledged $60 million of their own assets to contribute to the resort’s $105 million of debt payments, according to the letter.

Residents Reject Plan

The Reynolds family had tried to save the resort, built on 90 miles of Lake Oconee shoreline and featuring almost 5,000 acres (2,000 hectares) of undeveloped land, by convincing 3,600 homeowners to purchase the golf courses, clubhouses and other facilities. The residents rejected the plan.

Daniel Corp. has developed and managed similar residential golf resorts, including Ross Bridge and Grand River in Birmingham, and mixed-use developments such as 12th & Midtown in Atlanta and Riverside on the James in Richmond, Virginia, according to the company’s website.

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