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Texas man with big plans buys INEOS facility


David Frankens is now the owner of a defunct ethanol plant, 150 acres of land and a deep injection well.

He’s got a half-dozen or so employees that were kept on, the skeleton crew who continued to staff the abandoned INEOS Bio facility after the bank took it back.

Frankens said he just wrote a check for payroll for those folks. “And I bonused them,” the 45-year-old said from his home in Lufkin, Texas, a city of 35,000 people situated about halfway between Houston and Dallas.

When he heard that the tentative deal Alliance BioEnergy had to buy the plant from the bank was falling through, Frankens said he got his helicopter ready and flew down here to look at the site.

“A friend of mine knew about it,” Frankens said. “He said, David, I know this doesn’t fall exactly in your motto, but I’d like you to fly out and look at it. So I took the preacher and flew out and we prayed over it.”

As with any major life decision, Frankens said he consults his pastor, his religious advisor, and brings him along to important business meetings. “I am a man of faith. My heart is to help the community, by buying this land from a bank, from a lender at some reduced price,” Frankens said. “I have partners that own that [property] with me.”

The County Property Appraiser’s website lists the purchase price for the INEOS property as $3 million.

Frankens said he puts up the majority of the capital and brings in “really professional people” with specific industry expertise needed for a particular project.

Because of his success putting together deals and matching investors with opportunities, Frankens said he’s currently a billionaire. He also says at the end of the day, the defunct INEOS plant will be a $300 million project – a number that at this point in his life he doesn’t bat an eye at.

Indian River County, in response to a records request, confirmed that the county is exploring some options with Frankens’ company, but that nothing definite is in the works. Public records show there have been two meetings with Frankens – an initial introduction with Solid Waste Director Himanshu Mehta, and a follow-up meeting with Mehta, plus Utilities Director Vincent Burke and County Administrator Jason Brown on Jan. 23.

Mehta said the meeting took place in Brown’s office and lasted about an hour. “There were at least six people from the Frankens Energy team,” including Frankens and Alain Castro.

Castro is an MBA and engineer, founder of two companies, Ener-Core and Energy Ventures, both heavily involved in renewable energy projects not only in the United States, but also in Europe, Latin America and South America.

Frankens Energy LLC, the corporation that purchased the property, was established with the State of Florida Division of Corporations on Jan. 18, a few days before the closing and the meeting with county officials. The corporate paperwork lists only Frankens, no other officers or directors, and a registered agent that is not an attorney, but an agency called Incorp Services with an address in Loxahatchee.

Frankens Energy does not have a website where someone could quickly find out about the company.

The domain name was purchased on Feb. 3. “At one time I had nine websites and people were getting so confused with all the different companies, so I made an executive decision to shut every site down,” Frankens said.

Frankens says his business interests include 37 companies, more than 200,000 acres of land in Texas, real estate developments, wind farms, solar farms, medicinal cannabis, and investment partnerships from the Pacific coast to Australia.

Frankens Investment Fund LLC, he said, is his main company. The limited liability company was established Dec. 6, 2017, according to the Texas Department of State database.

He currently has at least six active corporations on file under his name in Texas, including several formed in recent months. Big Country Land & Ranches is the longest-established company still active in the state database, founded in January 1991. It lists Frankens as one of the owners.

Frankens said he started his business career by building a spec home when he was 18, using a bank loan  of about $30,000 or $40,000, he doesn’t remember the exact amount.  “In four years I was the biggest homebuilder in the area,” he claims. “In the 2008 bust, I bought Carlyle Homes. I bought several tract home companies.”

A 2005 Washington Post story quotes David Frankens as a real estate developer who unearthed a faulty gas pipeline underneath the mobile home park he’d been building, so apparently he was in the development business in his 30s. But Frankens’ story gets shaky after that.

The Texas Association of Builders lists one company by the name of Carlyle Homes, in Troup, Texas, about an hour from Lufkin. Project manager and civil engineer Drew Carlyle answered the phone Monday at the Carlyle Homes office. The company website says Drew’s father Joe Carlyle founded the company in 1990 and still serves as CEO.

Drew Carlyle said at no point during his dad’s 28-year history did anyone else own the family business. “Either he’s crazy or he’s not telling the whole truth. I’ve never heard of David Frankens,” Carlyle said.

Frankens said he has another Florida corporation called 301 Partners, through which he set up a major solar energy project for Jacksonville Electric or JEA. Upon checking various iterations of the name 301 Partners in the state corporations database, no active or inactive companies listing Frankens seem to exist.

In response to a request placed with JEA’s media office, JEA spokesperson Gina Kyle said Monday, “I did put out some feelers and that name was not familiar, but the way we do these projects is that we work with various contractors and that person could be affiliated with one of the subcontractors.”

As part of a cursory look into Frankens’ complex business interests, Vero Beach 32963 was able to verify that he is, in fact, listed as a board member for an Australian medical cannabis research company, NuCannaCo Science Limited, which has a market capitalization of $17.1 million and is traded on the National Stock Exchange of Australia.

Frankens’ bio on the corporate website says, “Mr. Frankens is a lifelong resident of East Texas where he started his business career as a custom homebuilder and expanded into mortgage lending and farm and ranch management.

“Mr. Frankens is also the developer of wind energy in the Southwestern U.S. and brings a high level of experience in negotiations, deal structures and worldwide business contacts that will benefit and complement the company.”

Frankens said he has a conceptual plan for the former INEOS property, but it’s still all in his head.

“When we flew down in the helicopter, I looked at it and I saw a lot of things. I’m right now designing that,” Frankens said. “It’s a beautiful site, a beautiful place.”

The concept, he said, involves taking waste concrete from the Indian River County landfill and making it into usable gravel for construction sites. He’s also interested in reclaiming the methane gas currently being burned off at the landfill and making that into energy.

Frankens said he wants to sit down with Alliance BioEnergy CEO Daniel de Liege and their scientists to see if maybe he can partner with them to make ethanol at the plant, too.

Frankens said he’s already begun working with a Realtor looking for homes or homesites in Indian River County so he can have a home close to the new project. He’s been viewing available parcels by helicopter, he said, and would ultimately want some acreage on water.