|City/Town: • Branson West|
|Location Class: • Residential|
|Built: | Abandoned: • 2009|
|Status: • Demolished|
|Photojournalist: • Billy Wade|
It’s not every day that you come across an abandoned mansion, let alone a whole neighborhood of them. The Indian Ridge Mansions development has been the subject of controversy and headache to locals.
Picture this, you drive into your gated community that lies on a grassy knoll surrounded by huge oak and hickory trees. Just a few miles away from a picturesque lake with a brand new marina to take the boat out. Around the corner is a waterpark to relish in the summer sun and a shopping center and hotel bringing in hundreds of tourists. All the while surrounded by condos, and towering modern townhomes. That’s what the people that would have lived in Indian Ridge Resort Community would have had to look forward to if it had ever been completed.
The massive 900-acre development would have cost over $1.6 billion if it had actually gotten further off the ground. In 2007 the groundbreaking on the new development took place, and a brand new welcome sign was put at the entrance to the partially paved road. Hundreds and hundreds of trees were cleared from the land to make way for the urban plans. Altogether just thirteen mansions were constructed or partially constructed on the premises in the two years. Most of them being a cookie-cutter design of the last and two being bigger than the rest. In a way, they vaguely resemble the abandoned castles I have seen in Turkey, which were remnants of Disney.
David P. Drake and Donald D. Snider, Jr., both out of state developers from Colorado, were partners under the name Western Sites Services (North Shore Development)and engaged in developing the Indian Ridge Mansions. In order to make the costly project come to fruition, they had to borrow money from three banks which were Columbian Bank and Trust in Topeka, Great American Bank of Lawrence, and Wells Fargo Bank.
However, the 2008 Great Recession was just the start of problems that would plague the construction halting work altogether. As banks were on the edge of collapse and the global financial crisis caused credit lines to vanish, federal regulators shut down the project as their loans were defaulted on. Instead of using the $14 million, they withdrew from the Columbia Bank for construction on the Indian Ridge Mansions, instead, they used most of the loan proceeds to repay bank loans for other projects they were involved in Colorado. By 2009, Lead Developer Jim Shirato and North Shore Development were trying to find other funding for the project after they defaulted on 51 loans.
David P. Drake and Donald D. Snider, Jr., both pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. Admitting they and other conspirators made false representations to Columbian Bank in order to obtain loan funds. Both were sentenced to five years in federal prison. Vickie A. Hall, the wife of David Drake, pleaded guilty to one count of concealing a felony after allowing the company she owned called Colorado Modular Home Finders Service, LLC to conceal Drake and Snider’s felonies by withdrawing home deposits from Columbia Bank. Heather A. Gibbs, Snider’s wife, pleaded guilty to one count of concealing a felony. Both wives received three years probation. And lastly, James B. Clarkson, the mortgage broker, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud. As part of a plea agreement, he was sentenced to two years in federal prison followed by three years of probation.
The FDIC purchased the 800-acre property in July 2012 for $3.1 million but didn’t hold onto it for long. Later that year a buyer was found for the property but they failed to close. A 25-acre parcel was sold to Jim Jones for $700,000 in 214 and then the rest was sold later that year to Ascent Acquisitions for $1.4 million in July 2014. The latest owner of the more than 800-acres of land is Dennis Dougherty, a partner with M D & D Investors LLC. Having purchased the land in 2015, they announced in 2018 that a groundbreaking ceremony would occur and the defunct mansions would be developed but four years later and the only work that had been done is the demolition of four of the mansions back down to their concrete foundations. The rest continue to sit and have undergone so much vandalism after the mansions went viral a few times on social media. The Sheriff of Taney County and his deputies have had to increase patrol daily to the site just to keep people out.
In early November of this 2022 Silver Dollar City had announced that they had purchased the land and almost immediately started demolishing the homes to make way for a new project on the land.
Gallery Below of Indian Ridge Mansions
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