Ahwatukee Country Club

The small area in blue shows the Ahwatukee Country Club course at 48th Street and Warner Road. (Special to AFN)

With a possible deal to sell Club West Golf Course in the making, owner Wilson Gee has put the Ahwatukee Country Club on the market.

Club West residents will likely know before the end of this month if their golf course will be restored this year.

A new bidder has emerged in owner Wilson Gee’s nearly year-long effort to sell Club West Golf Course, though the prospective buyer’s identity is shrouded in secrecy.

“They’re in the due diligence period right now,” Gee told AFN, noting that that period of deep inspection of the course and the cost of restoration is scheduled to end in about two weeks with a tentative closing on the deal set for early September.

With that possible deal in its final stages, Gee also is selling the Ahwatukee Country Club on 48th Street just north of Warner Road for $3.2 million in cash.

“It’s just to test the market, see if there’s any interest out there,” said Gee, who said that while the covenants, conditions and restrictions require the site remain a golf course,  they do allow lodging.

Gee said if a resort-developer saw the

possibility of upgrading the course and adding a boutique hotel “it would benefit that whole area.”

He said the 18-hole course itself — as well as the 13,000-square-foot clubhouse — “needs a facelift.”

Gee also cited recent reports in the Wall Street Journal and Golf Inc. magazine that he said showed “the interest in the game of golf has plateaued again and 500 to 1,000 courses across the country are likely to close this year.

The Ahwatukee County Club course is irrigated by well water, eliminating the high cost of city potable water that has been a stumbling block in his efforts to operate — and, later, unload — the Club West Golf Course.

The Ahwatukee Country Club is one of

three golf courses in Arizona currently on the market.

The two others are the Sundance Golf Course in Buckeye, where owners are pitching its location in a federal opportunity zone as worth its $2.6 million asking price, and the Mesa Del Sol Golf Club in Yuma, whose owners are asking $2.5 million.

Gee owns all four golf courses in Ahwatukee, including the beleaguered Ahwatukee Lakes executive course that he closed in 2013 and which has been the focus of litigation between him and two homeowners since then.

Homeowners Linda Swain and Eileen Breslin want him to restore the 18-hole course — something Gee said will never happen.

A three-judge state Court of Appeals panel currently is considering Gee’s appeal from a Superior Court ruling that found land use regulations for the site require it be used for golf.

Gee lamented the homeowners’ refusal to drop their suit and accept his offer of paying all their legal bills and donating several million dollars to the Ahwatukee Board of Management.

“I hate to say this but they should stop listening to consultants,” he said, insisting that the cost of restoring the course would be more than twice the $6 million estimate that the homeowners’ experts have made.

It will be two years this fall since Club West residents saw green grass on their golf course and unless a deal can be made and grass planted by October, they likely will miss the 2019-20 golf season.

Gee in 2016 shut off its irrigation, contending the $700,000 city water bill he paid annually was prohibitively high.

He found a buyer in Richard Breuninger and his Inter Tribal Golf Association, who restored the course to a lush green landscape in the fall of 2017.

But residents’ hopes were dashed when he ran into financial trouble in February 2018 and the city shut off water service for unpaid bills totaling close to $200,000, quickly sending the course spiraling into a barren piece of desert.

Gee last September foreclosed on a $1 million note Breuninger signed in December 2017 to buy the course and almost immediately put it on the market.

Earlier this year, a group of four businessmen had made a bid on the $1 million sale price for Club West and spent several months of due diligence examination.

But the day before their due diligence period expired, they pulled out of the deal, contending that the Club West course was worth only half the $850,000 Gee has listed as the sale price.

Those prospective buyers said they had sought an extension on the closing to negotiate new legal and structural problems they had uncovered during their inspection but that Gee refused to give them more time.

“The issues we found during our inspection period would have increased our anticipated expenses by an additional $200,000 to $250,000,” their statement said. “We feel the true value of the property to be around $450,000. This considers the current dilapidated condition, lack of equipment, lack of alternative water source along with the fact that there is currently no active established business.”

“The current condition of the Club West Golf Course property is very depressed,” they said. “The course itself requires a great deal of resources to bring it up to an acceptable level. 

“There is no equipment such as course maintenance equipment, golf carts or operational sprinkler system. The clubhouse is currently not in a condition to conduct business. There is no pro shop, dining furniture, working kitchen or bar and several inoperative air conditioning systems.”

Ahwatukee businessman Rande Leonard, who owns the storage facility on 32nd Street on the south side of Pecos Road, has come up with a plan for a pipeline that would take cheaper water from the Gila River Indian Community land, then run beneath the freeway and ultimately service Club West.

Gee has made a condition of the Club West sale that a buyer be prepared to pony up $1 million toward the pipeline’s construction. Leonard, who had hoped to already have the pipeline installation underway, said he’s stalled until a buyer for Club West is in place and committed to the project.

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