Three months after regaining ownership of the Club West Golf Course, Wilson Gee has put it up for sale.
Gee last Friday priced the course at $1 million – making it the cheaper of the two golf courses in Arizona currently on the market and one of 32 courses on sale in the country. The other, Sun Dance Golf Club in Buckeye, is selling for $2.5 million, but it was built in 2003 – 10 years after Club West was.
Gee said he decided to sell the course because “I don’t think people there want me.”
“Basically, I have no support,” he said, adding that he feels many of the HOA’s approximate 2,400 homeowners “don’t want me running things.”
He also complained that the Foothills Club West Community Association board specifically wouldn’t work with him as he tried to put the course back in playing condition.
“They said ‘you got to do this, got to do that.’ That’s why I decided it wasn’t worth it,” Gee said.
“So, we’re looking at just selling,” he added. “I think price wise, it’s an attractive property.”
But Gee’s decision may be putting him on a collision course with the HOA board and their attorney, Tim Barnes – the same lawyer representing two Ahwatukee Lakes homeowners in their long-running lawsuit against him for letting that golf course run into ruin.
The HOA in summer 2016 sued Gee over conditions of the course after he stopped watering it because he said he could not afford to pay city water bills that exceeded $700,000 a year.
The HOA withdrew the suit last December after Inter Tribal Golf Association CEO Richard Breuninger signed a $1.3 million note with Gee to buy the course and then had restored it to a lush, green landscape.
But now the course has dried up again after the city shut off service in March when Breuninger failed to pay water bills now totaling close to $300,000 with interest.
And HOA board President Michael Hinz said his association does not intend to let it stay that way without a fight.
Hinz denied Gee’s assertion that the board had presented Gee with any specific demands beyond asking for his plan to restore the course.
He said Gee had asked the board for “forbearance” until he could implement a plan to restore the course, presumably once he could arrange for cheaper water..
“The only requirement we told him we have is that if he wants to get a forbearance on the golf course, he has to provide us with a valid plan for its restoration and we’d be willing to discuss forbearance,” Hinz said. “He told us he needed some time to put the course together and clean it up and he’d appreciate it if we didn’t pressure him.”
“But all we got was a marketing plan.” Hinz added. “We support whatever marketing plans he has, but we can’t be his marketing arm.”
Hinz also indicated the board would not patiently wait until Gee finds a buyer.
“Mr. Gee has a duty to bring the course up to standard whether the course is for sale or not,” Hinz said, adding, “The HOA looks for every remedy that’s available. The issue is what can we do to get a green course. We represent the homeowners and the homeowners want a green golf course.”
Hinz, who was surprised by Gee’s move last Friday to put the course on the market, seemed unpersuaded by Gee’s assertion that until the sale, he would be taking care of the course.
“We’re still maintaining it,” Gee told AFN, adding his crews recently had taken out a dozen dead trees and that he had to buy a new $60,000 machine to help them clear dead brush and trees.
“Some homeowners have called and complained about the condition of the course,” Hinz countered.
Hinz also said he’s not surprised Gee feels homeowners don’t like him.
“Whether or not they want him to be the owner, whatever Mr. Gee’s reputation is and whether he believes the community doesn’t want him, I don’t doubt he has the evidence to support that,” Hinz said.
Meanwhile, the prospects for a quick sale – or, if there is a sale, that green grass will return to the course this year – seem murky.
And once again, that’s because of the problem that has been dogging both the course’s owners for several years – namely, the cost of city potable water.
The online ad states, “The new owner of Club West must make a $1,000,000 contribution towards the pipeline in order to receive discounted water. Annual savings will be approximately $300,000 – $350,000, making the course immediately cash flow positive.”
However, Ahwatukee businessman Rande Leonard said his timetable has been delayed by ongoing South Mountain Freeway construction.
Leonard said freeway design-builders Connect202Partners “estimates that they won’t move traffic off Pecos Road and build the southern half/eastbound side until summer 2019. Therefore, we will miss planting bermuda until June 2020, but they can overseed in October 2019.”
Leonard’s vision is to transmit Long Term Storage Credit water stored within SRP’s water territory, leasing SRP wells to recover those storage credits and transporting the recovered water in SRP’s canals/laterals under a transportation agreement that has yet to be worked out.
If there is a new owner who can reach an agreement with Leonard and overseed Club West next October and if a pipeline is working by next September, Club West’s long-term future would then be secured.