Save Club West is a third of its way toward rounding up enough homeowners to invest in purchasing the community’s golf course.
But Jim Lindstrom, the group’s leader, has one eye on the calendar as he continues to see if he can obtain agreements from 300 people willing to invest $13,333 each. So far, 101 homeowners have committed, he said.
Lindstrom, who in December unveiled his plan to buy the course from owner Wilson Gee, estimates it will cost $4 million to buy and restore the course to make it profitable. Gee has put the course up for sale for $1.9 million, but Lindstrom has declined to say what the group is willing to offer.
The plan states the $4-million goal could be achieved if 300 to 500 homeowners agree to invest. If he won agreements from 500 homeowners, the per-person investment would be around $8,000.
Meanwhile, the course has emerged as an issue in the Club West Homeowners Association board elections slated next month.
Save Club West has identified candidates that Lindstrom said “we can work with.”
“The HOA needs to be a tool and resource to the homeowners and not a means to its own end,” he said. “We not telling people who to vote for, but identifying those who we believe we can work with.”
The “Buy Club West” movement began last summer after Gee curtailed irrigating the course, claiming his annual city water bill of $700,000 was too expensive.
That move prompted the HOA board to sue Gee, asking a court to order him to restore the course, which had begun turning brown from insufficient irrigation.
Lindstrom and a small group of other homeowners oppose the lawsuit, calling it a time-consuming, financially expensive avenue that doesn’t guarantee the future of the course.
At the same time, the HOA board has declined to take a position on the purchase plan, saying it would undercut its position in the lawsuit.
Lindstrom said he fears that if he cannot round up investors before summer, the irrigation problems will return.
“The current owner may close the operation again this spring to save water costs, which will inflict even more damage on the turf and infrastructure,” he said. “The timing to make a purchase offer will be June – August, if enough folks show an interest to pursue the purchase.”
Lindstrom made the statement in an email several weeks ago to homeowners, stating he need to pay the consultants who helped him develop a detailed plan for buying, restoring and profitably running the course.
He said he raised enough money to keep his effort going.
“We were effectively out of money,” he said, adding that he also has completed a full business plan for acquiring and running the golf course.
“Because this is a collective and therefore complicated purchase, we need to hire lawyers who specialize in securities and transactional work to complete required licensing and registrations with local, state and federal authorities, establishing a governing board and bylaws to oversee the golf operations, and may need to create a new for-profit legal entity,” he said.
But now Lindstrom said he is “working to identify larger capital investors” who would invest significantly higher sums of money in return for a portion of the profits from running the course.
Under the plan, homeowners for their investment would receive various perks, such as priority scheduling for tee times and discounts on equipment and clothing from the pro shop.
Lindstrom also noted that negotiations are still going on between a small group of city and state lawmakers and the Arizona Department of Transportation over finding a source of cheap well water and providing an infrastructure to deliver it to the Club West course.
The talks are part of broader discussions as the lawmakers try to get concessions from ADOT in connection with construction of the South Mountain Freeway.
Lindstrom conceded that such a deal might persuade Gee to just keep the course since his water bill would theoretically be substantially reduced.
“We just want our golf course back,” he said. “If Wilson Gee can restore in a way that is acceptable to the community, God bless him for that. The investors will get their money back because it is in escrow.”
Lindstrom said he is concerned that the golf course’s condition is not only causing home values to decline, but also driving homeowners out.
He said nine homes have been sold in recent months, and that he estimates it would cost about $50,000 for a homeowner to move. That would include a lower price for their home and a higher price for a new home, as well as Realtor fees and moving costs.
“Either way, it’s going to cost money,” he said.
In a recent update to Club West homeowners, Lindstrom said there is always a possibility that a court could rule in Gee’s favor and even allow him to get permission to repurpose the course.
“We remain certain that the only realistic solution to saving the course and our home values is to have a group of homeowners join together to purchase it,” he said.
He also noted that Gee has countersued the board, claiming it is trying to ruin his business. The board had offered him $10 for the course about two months ago.
“There is always the chance that the court could rule against the HOA, and for the golf course owner (including an award of his attorneys' fees), even if the HOA spends tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands on the lawsuit,” Lindstrom wrote to homeowners.
He also noted that if all 2,550 homeowners in Club West, it would cost $150 per household per year to pay the water bill or a one-time payment of $500 to buy the course.
“We hired a golf course water expert and architect who confirmed that the operation can be profitable if critical changes and improvements are made,” Lindstrom said.
He also took a swipe at the HOA board, noting dues have been raised twice “to pay for legal fees for the lawsuit.”
“Although complete transparency is unrealistic, we would love to see the HOA board do a much better job in communicating with the homeowners about the single most important threat facing our home values, and work with Save Club West,” he wrote, adding:
“If you agree, we suggest that you keep that in mind for the upcoming board election at the March meeting.”
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