Palau’s Image Restaurant and the property on which it sits are for sale. Located on the island of Koror the land consists of 60 000 square meters. William Bischoff attorney for the property’s owner Huan Borja and assistant attorney general for the attorney general of Guam told the Journal “The property is premier.” It is being land sold for $75 per square meter including the on which the restaurant is located. “The land is fee simple meaning Borja is the sole owner of the property and no one else has a claim to it.”
Bischoff said the property was mortgaged therefore a portion of the property must be sold by May 2007 in order to pay off the debt.
According to Bischoff before the property went up for sale it went through 11 years of litigation and two generations of probate because unlike in the U.S. where if someone dies without a will their property is divided amongst their children. “In Palau depending on how the deceased person acquired the land there are different that dictate where the land goes ” Bischoff
From 1993 through 1997 the property went through a “quiet action title” — inquiring if anyone had claim to the land. “There is a general impression that land titles (in Palau) are not secure but this property has no claims or liens on it. We are trying to sell the whole property but are willing to divide it up and sell it ” Bischoff said.
As reported in an earlier edition of the Journal (See “Palau awaits outcome of lawsuits” in the Nov. 15 2004 edition of the Journal.) the Image Restaurant belonged to Borja’s cousin Margarita “Margie” Borja Dalton. Two lawsuits involving the restaurant were brought against Dalton.
The first suit was a civil action filed by Borja. The suit disputed a 1979 land use agreement for a term of 99 years. The agreement was signed by Dalton’s uncles including Emilio Borja — who was later deemed sole owner of the land — aunts and mother allowing Dalton to develop the site that the restaurant occupies. The agreement required Dalton to pay the owners 8% of the net income of all the business on the land. The suit was filed in hopes of getting the agreement rescinded.
In 1979 the agreement was terminated with the restriction that the termination should be deemed to exclude the area where Dalton constructed the restaurant. The restaurant would remain subject to the agreement to the extent of allowing Dalton to remain there but requiring her to share the profits with Borja.
The Bank of Guam filed the second suit for unpaid funds on mortgage interest which met with appeals and counter appeals by Dalton. In December 2004 Dalton lost that suit wherein the Bank of Guam won the right to foreclose on her interest in Image Restaurant. The court’s decision found in favor of the bank for the amount of $238 400 that Dalton owed for a loan on mortgage interest.
On March 31 2005 the Koror branch of the Bank of Guam held a public auction of the Image Restaurant (See “Image Restaurant auction to proceed” in the March 21 edition of the Journal.). The auction included the building site located at Meyuns in Koror State and all goods merchandise machinery equipment fixtures and furniture.
The minimum bid was set at $250 000; additional bids were raised in increments of $5 000. The auction was originally scheduled for April 29 2004 but met with delays pending a question regarding the nature and extent of Dalton’s interest land the land on which the building sits. The question rested on the outcome of an earlier lawsuit (See “Palau’s Image awaits outcome of lawsuits” in the Nov. 15 2004 issue of the Journal). When the land was auctioned off Borja purchased it and it was once again consolidated with the rest of the property. MBJ.