Kelly Peterson assured residents of Hawks Point on Tuesday that "the cloud is off" the assisted living facility on Dickinson State University's campus as First International Bank and Trust officially took ownership of the property.
Peterson, the bank's president of the western North Dakota region, told around 50 residents and staff that its foreclosure on the property closed at midnight Tuesday, ending a 60-day redemption period without payment from past ownership group Dickinson Investments LLC.
"There's no more foreclosure. There's no more worries about judgements or liens. There's no more worry about getting kicked out," he said. "The bank is taking care of it and going to continue to take care of it."
Peterson assured residents that rents will not increase and that most of Hawks Point's management in staying in place—save for one person, Jim Ozbun, who's stepping down as Hawks Point's interim executive director.
The bank will take over executive management of the facility as it begins searching for a full-time executive director. Day-to-day operations will stay in the hands of current managers and directors.
"I hope to be able to step down as of the first of September and go back into retirement," said Ozbun, who lives in one of Hawks Point's cottages.
Ozbun, who was the interim president at DSU before taking over at Hawks Point, has been a key player at DSU as it continues to recover from its foundation being forced into receivership by North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem in October 2014.
Though Dickinson Investments owned and operated Hawks Point, all its loans were guaranteed by the DSU Foundation. In September 2015, Stenehjem called for the foundation to be dissolved, calling it insolvent.
First International holds nearly $5 million in debt on Hawks Point and secured its second mortgage position in late June during a sheriff's sale of the facility. The bank submitted a winning bid of $4.5 million and was credited up to the amount it held in debt.
Dacotah Bank, the initial lender to the property, is the holder of the first mortgage position and is owed around $11 million. First International CEO Steve Stenehjem told The Press in June that the bank wants to sell Hawks Point "free and clear" of any liens, and said it didn't have a timetable set for the acquisition of Dacotah Bank's mortgage.
Peterson said Tuesday that First International has received no offers to buy Hawks Point but it's going to listen to anyone who comes forward, as the bank has no long-term intentions of owning the facility.
"We have been contacted by a couple of groups, but at this point, I think they're just being nosy and trying to figure out what's going on," Peterson said.
Peterson said the bank also wants DSU to continue its affiliation with Hawks Point by holding classes at the facility and having its students continue to work there.
Jenn Quigley, the environmental services director at Hawks Point, said the atmosphere at the assisted living facility was positive Tuesday and that there was a "sigh of relief" among residents "that this chapter of Hawks Point is over."
"I'm personally pretty excited about it," she said. "We've had some bigger meetings like this, where we've been able to address things."