Feds sue developer over unfinished Bear Lake resort in Garden City
Just off the main drag in Garden City, Water’s Edge Resort bills itself as a luxury retreat on the shores of Bear Lake. But the Securities and Exchange Commission, or the SEC, says the resort’s developer illegally used investor funds to pay himself.
In a lawsuit filed last month, the SEC accused the Utah Regional Investment Fund, led by Christofer Shurian, of using investment funds to make a number of purchases, including a vacation home in Mexico and Shurian’s personal home in Utah County, among other purchases.
Shurian and his attorney deny any wrongdoing, saying the project has experienced delay after delay. Shurian said he recently fired a contractor due to bad work, which was another setback.
“Here we are, things are going slower, they're not going as expected," Shurian said in an interview. "Now, if I had my wishes, this would all would have been built like that, and off to the races. But that's just not the reality of it.”
The SEC alleges that Shurian and Utah Regional Investment Fund solicited funds from around 30 investors, many of them Chinese nationals, starting in 2015 as part of the EB-5 visa program, which can grant someone permanent residency if they invest in US projects that meet certain criteria.
Though Shurian planned to complete Water’s Edge by 2017, the project is far from done. Currently, Water’s Edge features a main building that houses a spa, restaurant, candy shop and gift shop, along with a handful of condos upstairs that can be rented out.
But behind the cluster of businesses is a half-finished condo building, which Shurian said he’s hoping will be finished soon, though it’s unclear when it could be done. The resort’s final plans call for condo buildings and a hotel, along with an indoor water park and an outdoor concert stage.
Shurian says he and his attorney have fully complied with the SEC investigation, adding they plan to address the lawsuit in court.
“When the SEC files a civil lawsuit against you, it looks bad. It looks really bad," Shurian said. "And then when they issue this public press release, that makes me look really bad. And there's no opportunity for me to defend myself.”