PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – The News4JAX I-TEAM has uncovered that the Serenata Beach Club in Ponte Vedra Beach is in financial trouble and the owners are involved in at least two foreclosure lawsuits.
Members of the popular beach club contacted the I-TEAM over the weekend wondering about the future of the club after a series of unexplained closures and concerning emails.
Confusion began Friday when some members of the beach club said they received emails from the owners of Serenata asking for payments to be made by check only in person or by mail. Some members said they were told by employees on Saturday that the club was closing down indefinitely.
The owners have since told members the club is staying open.
A club member who asked to remain anonymous said she paid $10,000 in membership fees and annual dues totaling more than $3,000. Now she’s worried about how her money is being handled.
She said the gates were completely locked Thursday when members usually have 24/7 access to the private beach property.
“I think we need transparency. That’s never happened. So we couldn’t get on the beach. The next day, we were planning to spend the day at the club Friday, and then they send another email that we’re closed again on Friday due to reasons beyond our control,” she said.
News4JAX found two active foreclosure lawsuits against the owners of Serenata Beach Club in St. Johns County. DLP Lending Fund is seeking more than $8.5 million from owners Molly and Jeffrey Butler. World Business Lenders said it is owed nearly $2.1 million.
WBL’s lawsuit says the Butlers made one payment of $125,000 and then defaulted on the remaining payments after opening the loan in August 2022.
Serenata Beach Club owners sent an email to their members on Sunday writing, “The club is not closing, and we are not filing for bankruptcy.”
The owners went on to say they were victims of a crime involving a fake loan scheme investigated by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.
Members said they don’t think that crime quite explains the lawsuits.
“What we want to do we want to get together a membership committee. They never give us the full information like even in that email,” a beach club member said. “Why are you now switching from ACH deposit? That makes no sense at all. So, I think before we pay more dues and that, we would want more clarity about what’s going on financially.”
Serenata Beach Club was open Monday and the parking lot was full of people.
On Monday, the owner asked a News4JAX crew to leave the property and gave no further comment on the situation.