Friday, May 20, 2016

Owner Of Event & Wedding Venue Loses Building To Foreclosure After Pocketing Thousand$ From Soon-To-Be-Married Couples, Leaving Them High & Dry

In Chattanooga, Tennessee, the Times Free Press reports:
  • Lindsay Street Hall, a high-profile event and wedding venue in downtown Chattanooga, was sold to a new owner [] at a foreclosure auction on the courthouse steps because the former owner, who filed for bankruptcy in October, wasn't paying the mortgage — which means about 10 couples will be out thousands of dollars they already paid for weddings.

    "If I hadn't been there [at the auction], the building would have been padlocked," said Chattanooga businesswoman Tara Plumlee, who was the sole bidder for 901 Lindsay St., a former First Congregational Church that's on the National Register of Historic Places.

    Plumlee, who owns three other local event venues and a catering company, will rebrand the building as 901 Lindsay.

    She said she spent Tuesday contacting couples who had prepaid for weddings with Kenneth E. Crisp Sr., the owner of the now-defunct Lindsay Street Hall.

    "Some of them are out all of their money," she said, adding that some wedding parties are out $20,000.

    Plumlee said she can't do the upcoming weddings free of charge, but she's trying to work out something.

    "I've been working with every bride, every momma of the bride," she said. "We've been on the phone with everybody. We've cried together. There are parents that are hiding it from their children. We've been instructed not to tell certain brides."

    "This has been an incredible scandal, and I'm trying to do my darnedest," Plumlee said. "That's why I showed up on the courthouse steps — because I just wanted to do the right thing."

    'He assured us there weren't any issues'

    The Times Free Press contacted several couples who had prepaid for upcoming weddings at Lindsay Street Hall, but they declined to comment on advice of their attorneys or because they wanted to focus on their upcoming nuptials.

    Crisp's bankruptcy court filings show that in October eight couples prepaid an average of $3,500 for upcoming weddings. But Plumlee said that some couples paid more since then, as much as $20,000.

    "May is a big wedding month," she said. "Those people have already paid in full."

    One man, who had prepaid for a wedding but didn't want to be named, said Ken Crisp Sr. assured him not to worry about the May 3 foreclosure auction, because Crisp promised that he'd retain control of the venue.

    "He assured us there weren't any issues," the groom-to-be said. "We had already paid them a little more than $5,000."

    Crisp didn't return phone calls left at the telephone number he put on court documents filed in U.S. Bankruptcy court in the historic courthouse on 11th Street in downtown Chattanooga.
For more, see Families lose thousands after Chattanooga wedding venue goes bankrupt.

In a related story see Wedding insurance offers safety to help couples prevent disaster on their big day:
  • "Our biggest claims are really venue-related," said Todd Shasha, a managing director at Traveler's, a publicly-traded insurance giant that has about 30,000 employees. "[Wedding] pictures never show up. Your florist does not deliver the flowers."

    Insurance typically covers the cost of lost deposits if a venue goes out of business. It also can pay to reconvene the wedding party to retake photos if the photographer doesn't show.

    Insurance can cover costs in the case of natural disasters, such as tornadoes, that make weddings impossible, and reimburse in the case of other wedding disruptors, such as the illness of a bride or groom or their military deployment.

    "Obviously, you never know when you're going to get deployed," Shasha said.

    Traveler's least-expensive policy is $160, Shasha said, and covers such things as $7,500 toward the venue and $1,500 toward the wedding photographer. Traveler's wedding insurance tops out at $1,025, which covers a $175,000 wedding. "The average cost of a wedding, I think it's around $30,000 today," Shasha said. "If you don't have the coverage, you're really putting it all at risk."

    Wedding insurance isn't a big product line for insurance companies, though Traveler's spokewsoman Sperry Mylott said its popularity is growing.

    There are no deductibles with Traveler's wedding insurance plans, so couples who buy one don't have to pay anything out of pocket.

    [Insurance agent Jim] Hartley said he's only sold two wedding insurance policies. "It's not popular in this area," Hartley said. "In Tennessee, [many] people go to the JP — justice of the peace."

    Cold feet is one thing that wedding insurance is not good for, he said. "If the bride backs out or the groom backs out — that's not covered," Hartley said.