Grand Strand development under fire

A resort and marina project, Bahama Island LLC, near North Myrtle Beach sits undeveloped and dozens of buyers are out millions of dollars.

The buyers have filed lawsuits against the developers claiming a breach of contract... among other things. Bahama Island sits between Little River Township and North Myrtle Beach. It was supposed to be a four phase development with condos, a marina, houses and more. A dry dock was built but that's as far as the developers got and the buyers say their money is nowhere to be found.

Jarrod Ownbey represents nearly 20 buyers. "According to their answers to our pleadings, they have said that the money was taken by a third party." Ownbey say's his clients are out nearly 5.1 million dollars.

The lawsuit lists dozens of defendants including, developers Tommy Hix and Jeff Shoup who own T&J development of North Myrtle Beach. Tommy Brittain is their attorney, he says in an effort to save the project, mistakes were made and money was mishandled. "My clients owe the depositors, no question about it. No matter where the money went, who's responsible, my clients owe them and we're going to do everything we can to get it back."

Brittain says his clients are trying to arrange financing on a piece of property with a lot equity. They hope money earned from that will pay the buyers back. He admits though, that may not happen. "It hasn't been done yet and nobody really has any confidence in it until it is done," Brittain said.

For now, the buyers, many of whom live out-of-state, are left with empty promises and empty pockets. "It's a bad situation because a lot of them are embarrassed a lot. A lot of them have a lot money... their retirement, their children's college funds, things like that are involved," Ownbey said.

T&J development is not the only corporation under fire, the lawsuit lists more than 50 defendants. Many of the lawsuits filed are awaiting answers.