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Sunwest Management files Chapter 11 on Montclair Park

An attorney for Oregon-based Sunwest Management, Inc. said the daily lives of residents at Poulsbo's Montclair Park won't change despite it being one of 14 communities on which the company filed Chapter 11 protection just before the start of 2009.

Sunwest CEO and founder Jon Harder also filed for personal Chapter 11 reorganization, according to a press release. The filings are part of a large-scale effort to address the company's financial challenges in the wake of nationwide housing and credit turmoil. A Portland turnaround consulting firm and new chief restructuring officer have taken up the job of reorganizing Sunwest and improving its ability to pay off debts to lenders, vendors and investors.

According to the company's Web site, "while the home-office team addresses the company's financial challenges, individual communities will continue to operate normally. Residents should experience no disruption in the care, activities, and routines they have come to expect."

Attorney Leon Simson reported the same, saying there won't be changes for Montclair's residents.

"They're going to have the same people taking care of them, the same food," he said.

Simson said Sunwest itself has not filed for bankruptcy.

Montclair Park administrator Lee Sandstede referred questions to Sunwest spokesman Steve Stradley, who did not return calls for comment.

According to a release, Harder and other Sunwest principals currently owe approximately $2 billion in debt secured by real estate. Harder's filing was prompted by the court-ordered garnishment of his accounts and the expectation more judgements against him would follow.

"The bankruptcy process is the best chance to see that everyone who is owed money is treated fairly as we work through some very complex legal and financial issues," Harder said in a prepared statement.

According to Oregon's Statesman Journal, Sunwest's financial troubles weren't widely known to the public until August, when the owners of 10 Sunwest assisted-living centers filed for protection under Chapter 11 bankruptcy laws. At the time, Sunwest officials said they didn't expect more bankruptcy filings.

Several Sunwest communities have been hit in recent months with receiverships and foreclosure actions. Sunwest's solutions include plans to sell some properties, reduce land holdings, improve asset management and lower corporate overhead costs. The company currently manages more than 250 senior living communities throughout the United States.

The company was founded in 1991, serves more than 17,000 residents and employs 11,300 people.

"Our top priority will be continuing normal operations throughout the reorganization," said Chief Operating Officer Darryl Fisher in a prepared statement. "Residents and their families can be confident this focus will not change as we work our way through the company reorganization process."

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