"Things are happening, and then they're not," Hilliard economic development director David Meeks said of Hickory Chase.

"Things are happening, and then they're not," Hilliard economic development director David Meeks said of Hickory Chase.

Hickory Chase, a proposed retirement community bounded by Davidson and Leap roads and Britton Parkway, still sits empty, guarded and maintained.

"We've had a few meetings now over the last couple of months with the whole team from Hickory Chase. And it's a big team," Meeks said. "There are five different banks involved, the attorneys for the receivers and the company and the bondholders. We're trying to get together and push the ownership end along so that they can get the property sold. So hopefully we'll have some progress by the end of the year."

Construction on Hickory Chase ceased in May 2009, and builder Erickson Retirement Communities filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy two months later. There was interest, though: more than 2,000 people requested information on living in the $288-million, retirement community, which would have been the largest project of its type in the country, and more than 100 people had made reservations to move into the first phase.

"Erickson was probably the only in the country that did communities that size, 2,200 residents," Meeks said. "Typically, you'll find them more in the 300-500 range, maybe even 750, as far as residents."

Plans were to have 2,200 people living at 1,500 regular units and 250 assisted living and full care units at Hickory Chase. Although the 62-year-old and older residents would have had to pay up to $600,000 to live there, they would be living in a self-contained community staffed by 1,000 employees and offering transportation, stores, medical facility, gym, salon, church, pools, putting green, post office, bars, restaurants, theater, plus a TV and radio station.

Despite Hickory Chase's closure, Hilliard "protected itself from all the downside risk," Meeks said.

Schonhardt has cited $17-million in road improvements in the area of the development.

However, it is to the city's benefit to see Hickory Chase occupied, and Hilliard can change the zoning somewhat for a potential buyer, but kids would not be permitted.

"We've got some nice interest in the property, so we're very encouraged there that as soon as they're able to get everything lined up so they can actually entertain a sale, that we'll have a buyer," Meeks said. "I know that the banks have heard from more than a dozen folks that have an interest in it. I'm hoping that in 30-60 days we'll start to see some movement, and we'll start to see some people going through the buildings. It's just all those parts, with the liens and everything else. You have to work through all that before they can actually do all the marketing, and it looks like that's painfully slow."

"We have been meeting with the banks," said Mayor Don Schonhardt, and more are planned. "We finally got them to sit down with us and talk about what they were doing and where they felt things were. I think we're all just trying to get our feet grounded in precisely what the remaining issues are, and what we need to do to move towards marketing the facility."

Calls to lead bank Key Bank and receiver Continental Real Estate were not returned.