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Local business icon files for personal bankruptcy in Chattanooga

Well-known Chattanooga businessman Allen Casey has a proud history in the city dating back some 40 years. In the 1970s, he turned a neglected railroad terminal into Chattanooga Choo Choo, now a top tourist destination. As many businesspeople find out, however, not every project pays off, and Casey has recently experienced a series of hardships, financial challenges and failed investments.

The 80-year-old Casey has now filed for personal bankruptcy after his latest project, a development off of the Tennessee River downtown area, failed. Two days earlier, his company, River City Resort, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Casey's Chapter 7 filing in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Chattanooga lists assets at less than $50,000 with liabilities of $1 million to $10 million.

The financial challenges apparently came after investors in a waterfront project filed a lawsuit against him, accusing him of taking as much as $7 million in deals. Casey denied the allegations and asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit.

Casey tried to develop the waterfront project for almost two decades. In 2004, he revealed plans to build a 60-unit condominium complex and a 98-room hotel with a restaurant, but the development never took off. A barge he bought for conversion into a floating bar and restaurant sat for years before becoming unusable, resulting in additional losses.

Most people probably think a bankruptcy filing is a bad thing. For businesspeople, however, bankruptcy can be the first step in regaining financial stability. Because personal bankruptcy may eliminate unsecured debts or make payments more manageable, it can help someone start over after financial hardship.

In addition, personal bankruptcy is not limited to businesspeople in Tennessee. Any resident who has experienced a financial setback due to medical debts, credit card debts or job loss may also file a bankruptcy, depending on the given circumstances.

Source: Times Free Press, "Chattanooga businessman Allen Casey files personal bankruptcy," Mike Pare, Feb. 27, 2014

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