Thursday, June 12, 2008

Do You Want Me To Pass It? No! Do You Want Me To Save Your Homes From Foreclosure? Yes!

It's amazing how far we have come from the "Shaq Diesel" days. Now, instead of dropping rap tracks or thunderous dunks, The Big Aristotle wants to drop some cash to help Orlando homeowners avoid foreclosure. Fortunately, Shaq has been much more successful at real estate investing than he ever was at free throw shooting.

Shaquille O'Neal says he wants to build a legacy -- literally -- in Orlando.

The NBA star said he is working on plans for real-estate-development projects in Orlando, with an eye toward helping those who are facing foreclosure on their homes.

"I want to come in not to kick them out, but to work with them and save them so they can stay in their homes," O'Neal told the Orlando Sentinel during an impromptu stop Tuesday at Orlando City Hall.

Attorney Mark NeJame, who arranged the visit along with longtime friend and Realtor Curtis Cooper, said the star center wants to buy the mortgages of homeowners who have slipped into foreclosure because of high interest rates. He would sell the homes back to those troubled buyers with more affordable terms, hoping to make a small profit.

So the homeowners get better terms, and Shaq effectively becomes their bank? Sounds like a good deal to me! Seriously, if he can help out the economy in Orlando by providing some relief to struggling homeowners, then I'm all for it. Besides, it's apparent that Shaq has a pretty good idea of what he would be getting into.
It wouldn't be O'Neal's first foray into real estate. In 2006, he announced the formation of The O'Neal Group to pursue commercial and residential development. At the time, the new company said O'Neal had amassed a real-estate portfolio valued at $50 million during his time in the NBA.

His ventures range from carwashes and strip malls to a financial stake in Metropolitan Miami, a luxury development under construction in downtown Miami that will include what's billed as the tallest residential tower south of New York.

He is also a partner in the 24 Hour Fitness chain, and there are plans for one of the gyms to anchor part of the SoDo mixed-use development being built south of downtown Orlando.

He's got the experience and the capital to assist with a serious problem that cities all over the country are facing. Hopefully, his plan holds up, and he can implement it in the somewhat near future. Otherwise, Orlando residents might add this to a list that already includes "poor free throw shooting" and "bolted to Los Angeles" as reasons they're not big fans of The Big Cactus.

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