Local restaurateur Jean-Pierre Bleger is a free man, at least free of the $1.5 million he owed on his downtown Main Avenue building currently occupied by Jean-Pierre Bakery.
Bleger said equity from properties his family owns in Paris allowed him to pay off the $1.5 million he owed Durango Main Avenue LLC, a company registered to local real estate agent John Wells.
Wells said the LLC bought the note on the building from First Southwest Bank about two years ago as an investment and extended the date Bleger needed to pay off the building multiple times so he could secure his finances.
“I’m happy he was able to keep his building and happy he was able to pay it off,” Wells said.
Bleger has been plagued by financial woes throughout the years. His real-estate company – Winble Corp. of Colorado – filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2006. The bakery at 601 Main Avenue, purchased in 2003 for $1.63 million, foreclosed in 2009.
Bleger said he always has had the funds to pay off his debt, but he wanted to put the money toward other investments.
He filed for bankruptcy because he didn’t want to restructure his assets in France, he said. Chapter 11 bankruptcy allows a debtor to reorganize in order to make a business profitable again.
Bleger still owes $600,000 on a mortgage on his building at 873 East Third St. The money is there to pay it off, he said, but it is being put toward other projects.
He established a new company, Mondorivoli, in April, and future real-estate ventures will be registered to it.
Bleger said he is ready to invest $7 million to $8 million in real estate around the Durango area.
For the time being, though, he’s just happy to have the bakery paid off and is ready to catch up on international travel.
The family will be traveling to Sydney, Mexico and Italy in the next few months.