Homeowners set to fight decision to close Lakes golf course - Ahwatukee Foothills News: News

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Homeowners set to fight decision to close Lakes golf course

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Posted: Friday, November 2, 2012 12:49 pm

At a passionate meeting Monday residents of Ahwatukee made it clear to owners and management of The Lakes at Ahwatukee Golf Course they’re not interested in making a deal that would close down half of the golf course and allow for luxury apartments to be built.

In 2008 residents surrounding The Lakes first got word that owner, Wilson Gee of RMJ Property Inc., was interested in closing at least half of the golf course to build apartments. Fliers were sent out and a nonprofit, Save The Lakes, was formed.

Save The Lakes hosted an official meeting on Oct. 29 with Gee, where he explained the situation and took questions from the group of more than 100 residents.

“In the past few years we’ve come to a point where we’re basically subsidizing The Lakes,” Gee said during the meeting. “What happened in the golf course industry is basically what happened everywhere else. The golf courses in Scottsdale came down to our price point and our price point came down, and now we’ve just been subsidizing the losses.”

Gee explained that he has not gone to the city for studies or a change of zoning yet. Right now, the development is just an idea for a possible business solution. What has been discussed is building an apartment complex on the east portion of the course and leaving the west side a nine-hole golf course with less green area, or possibly donating it for a park.

Gee said he was willing to donate the west half of the course but that would hinge on him being allowed to build on the east side. The cost to the owners is much more than the course is worth so they are not searching for someone to buy the entire course.

“I offered to donate it to the Ahwatukee homeowners for a park, but it was turned down,” Gee said. “I offered it as a nine-hole golf course to you guys. But remember, it’s a business and it’s not a profitable business right now, so keep that in mind.”

Residents during the meeting accused Gee of abandoning the golf course and allowing it to fall in value. They also expressed concerns over traffic, population density and CC&Rs they agreed to when their homes were built along the golf course. Homeowners paid a large premium in the late-’80s and early-’90s to have their houses back up to the golf course.

Ahwatukee Golf Properties, LLC., owns The Lakes at Ahwatukee, Country Club, Club West and The Foothills golf courses. Gee said The Lakes gets approximately 36,000 rounds a year, versus the 68,000 it got in 2006. Golf rounds played are down 30 to 40 percent on courses across Arizona. He said if homeowners are not willing to work with them on a solution, management may decide to close the course in June once the season is over. The course then would be subject to city regulations and insurance liability regulations.

Save The Lakes is asking residents to make a pledge to help pay for attorneys if it needs to take action in court. The group plans to fight to enforce the CC&Rs that are in place, which say the golf course must remain a golf course. To become a member of Save The Lakes, residents are asked to make a contribution. Ben Holt, president of Save the Lakes, said the group has nearly 200 members so far from across Ahwatukee Foothills. The group plans on having another meeting this month.

For more information, call Holt at (480) 598-3468 or email him at hholtsb@cox.net.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or ahurtado@ahwatukee.com

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