TUPELO – It was Earl Stone’s most expensive phone call ever, one lasting a little more than five minutes.
But for $31,000 a minute, Stone was the successful bidder on seven downtown Baldwyn properties he hopes will be used to help reinvigorate the area.
Stone was the lone bidder Tuesday for the properties once belonging to James Davis, the former chief financial officer for the defunct Stanford Financial Group.
Davis is among several former company officials accused of bilking $7.2 billion from investors through a Ponzi scheme involving Stanford certificates of deposit. Davis pleaded guilty in September 2009 for his part in the scheme and waits to testify in criminal trials in Houston, Texas.
Initially, Stone earlier this month offered a stalking horse bid of more than $173,000. But at the auction conference call held at the offices of Coldwell Banker/Tommy Morgan Realtors, his lower bid of $155,000 was accepted.
Attorneys for Ralph Janvey, the court-appointed receiver in charge of liquidating Stanford assets, accepted the bid. They said it could take about 60 days for Stone to receive clear titles to the properties.
As for what Stone plans for them, he said he wasn’t sure.
“I haven’t made anything definite,” he said. “I’ve got some ideas and I hope to do something. But I really don’t know.”
Stone said he’s gotten interest for some of the properties. Asked if he envisioned restaurants or retailers moving in, he demurred.
“I’d just like to see Baldwyn where people have places where they want to go,” he added. “If we can just get a few things going, it’ll be good.”
Last week, Trustmark Bank said it was moving into Stanford’s former Tupelo office, where Davis and former Chief Investment Officer Laura Pendergest-Holt – both Baldwyn natives – had offices.
Tupelo Furniture Market Chairman and CEO V.M. Cleveland bought the property earlier this year for $750,000, and Trustmark will be leasing it from him.
Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal