Richard Breuninger’s roller-coaster court fight to keep the Club West Golf Course is officially ended.
A federal bankruptcy judge finally put an official stamp of rejection on a petition he filed last September to revive a request to reinstate the bankruptcy petition he filed last August to stall owner Wilson Gee’s foreclosure on the $1.3 million note Breuninger had signed on Dec. 1, 2017, to buy the course.
The initial bankruptcy filing would have indefinitely delayed the foreclosure, but that was dismissed for failure to require the necessary paperwork.
The Inter Tribal Golf Association and Richard Breuninger, its CEO, accused Gee of foreclosing on the course Sept. 4 despite “deep discussions” with what they claimed was a new owner.
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.
“Although debtor believed it had updated documents about its creditors, the documents debtor possessed were not up to date,” ITGA stated. “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 stated. “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 claimed it “engaged in extensive discussions with Wilson Gee to prevent Wilson Gee’s foreclosure” and that it believed “that perhaps a solution to prevent foreclosure was in sight.”
Breuninger blamed the unpaid water bill on Club West Golf Management, the one-person company he had hired to manage day-to-day operations at the course. That company was owned by a woman with whom Breuninger had a business relationship about nine years previously.
Gee denied knowledge of any effort by Breuninger to have a new party involved in ITGA that would pay off the note. He also said Breuninger had fallen hopelessly behind on his debt to him.
That debt was atop a delinquent water bill that with penalties is believed to exceed $300,000.
The mounting delinquency had prompted the city Water Services Department to shut off water to the golf course a year ago this month, resulting in the course’s deterioration from a lush green playground to a barren tract that remains today.
Gee has put the course up for sale, listing it at $1 million. However, his ad also said that any prospective buyer also must be prepared to invest an additional $1 million with Ahwatukee businessman Rande Leonard’s plan to install a pipeline to bring cheaper water to the course.
Gee since 2016 has complained that city water bills, which he said total about $700,000 annually.
Leonard is in the engineering phase for installing the water line later this year and said it should cut the course’s water bill significantly.
The timing for the pipeline’s installation is unclear since it is inextricably linked to the construction of the South Mountain Freeway. The line will run beneath the freeway through a pair of concrete sleeves that the Arizona Department of Transportation has agreed to build, but all that will depend on when crews are ready to enter the final stage of the freeway’s construction along Pecos Road.
Gee said he has received several expressions of interest in buying the course but as yet no deal to buy it is in sight.
Although some Club West homeowners have been pressing the homeowners’ association board to sue Gee to force its restoration, it does not appear as if any lawsuit is forthcoming.
Gee said he has been in regular contact with the board and he appreciates members’ patience while he tries to find a buyer.
Last year board President Mike Hinz said “we want to be fully supportive” of Gee and that “we are prepared to help in any way we can.”
Gee remains optimistic that he will find a buyer and predicted that golfers will be able to play the course late next year.