Club West Golf Course’s restoration has been imperiled again after its former owner asked federal bankruptcy court to reinstate his petition and block Wilson Gee from taking control of the site.
In a petition filed with the court on Friday, the Inter Tribal Golf Association and its CEO Richard Breuninger accused Gee of foreclosing on the course Sept. 4 despite “deep discussions” with what they claimed was a new owner of the association to hold off on the trustee sale.
ITGA also said a clerical mix-up caused its failure to file a mandatory list of creditors. A bankruptcy court judge cited that failure in dismissing ITGA’s petition and allowing the foreclosure to proceed.
Gee said he’s mystified by the latest claims and expressed concern that the latest legal maneuver will jeopardize his preparations to have the course ready for the golfing season.
“It doesn’t make sense,” he said. “But here’s the problem: This is September and our window is three weeks. If we can’t resolve this, there won’t be golf.”
Nonetheless, Gee said he is proceeding with preparations for the course and was scheduled to meet with Mike Hinz, president of the Club West HOA. He said he also is hoping to meet soon with Lloyd Melton, who will need to arrange a new lease with Gee for Biscuits Restaurant at the clubhouse.
ITGA and Breuninger bought the course Dec. 1, signing a note for $1.3 million and promising to pay Gee $35,000 a month until the note was satisfied.
But ITGA fell into arrears by mid-spring as other big bills came due – including a water bill from Phoenix that is now close to $300,000.
Breuninger blamed the water bill on Club West Golf Management, the one-person company he had hired to manage day-to-day operations at the course.
Gee originally scheduled the foreclosure on Aug. 21, but ITGA the previous day filed its bankruptcy petition, which automatically stopped the foreclosure for at least two weeks.
A few days before the rescheduled trustee sale on Sept. 4, the bankruptcy court ruled that ITGA had failed to follow rules requiring the filing of a list off creditors as well as a plan for repaying the $1.3 million debt.
The petition ITGA filed through a new attorney, a New York City lawyer replacing the Denver law firm that handled the initial filing, sets out a series of undated events that attempt to explain the absence of the required creditors list.
“Although debtor believed it had updated documents about its creditors, the documents debtor possessed were not up to date,” it states. “Instead, the documents debtor needed were with debtor’s previous owners. On or about Sept. 5, 2018, debtor obtained the documents it required from third parties and provided them to its counsel.”
“On Sept. 4, Wilson Gee reinstated and proceeded forward with the foreclosure without notice to debtor’s new owners,” it further states. “Wilson Gee had been aware of debtor’s new owners and he had engaged in substantial discussions with debtor’s new owners before he elected to move forward with the foreclosure.”
ITGA also says its unnamed owners “took multiple, emergency trips by airplane and retrieved the documents it needed to proceed with its petition,” though “by the time debtor obtained the documents it needed, this court had already dismissed debtor’s petition.”
The petition goes on to say ITGA’s owners “engaged in extensive discussions with Wilson Gee to prevent Wilson Gee’s foreclosure” and that ITGA was led “to believe that perhaps a solution to prevent foreclosure was in sight.
“As one example, Wilson Gee told Debtor that if debtor paid Wilson Gee between $50,000.00 and $100,000.00, Wilson Gee would stop the foreclosure and allow debtor to keep the golf course. However, as debtor came close to procuring the funds, Wilson Gee abruptly decided to proceed with the foreclosure.”
Gee said he has no idea who the “new owners” of ITGA are and that as far as he knows, Breuninger still runs it.
He also said, “We’re continuing as if the foreclosure is settled.”
“I’ve told my guys let the legal process take its course,” he said. “We’ve been out at the course and it looks good.”
He said once the lake is refilled, some parts of the irrigation system may need replacement, but he saw no reason why overseeding can’t begin – as long as bankruptcy court doesn’t stop him.
”I’ve changed all the locks and we’re going forward,” he said, adding that his employees at Club West had to call police Friday night when Breuninger attempted to enter the clubhouse. Police left after concluding it was a civil matter, though officers had Breuninger leave the premises.
Meanwhile, both Hinz and Melton expressed high hopes last week about what then appeared to be Gee’s unchallenged return to Club West.
“We’ve already opened a dialogue with Wilson and we are prepared to help in any way we can,” he said, adding that the HOA would even “be an advocate with the city” on the issue of water costs if that was necessary.
“We want to be fully supportive,” said Hinz.
Gee said as much on Monday, telling AFN that he was encouraged by Hinz’s statements of support to him personally.
Melton apparently has not yet contacted Gee, though Gee said he was looking forward to hearing from the Biscuits owner soon.
The foreclosure terminated a clubhouse lease that Melton had with ITGA and so a new arrangement must be made with Gee.
“The community has been very supportive of me,” said Melton, adding that he has been operating only on weekends right now.
Gee said he wants to reach an equitable arrangement with Melton so that Biscuits can remain.
“We’ll see what happens, but I hope we can work something out,” Gee said.