Wilson Gee on Monday closed his deal with four investors who are buying the beleaguered Club West Golf Course and still want to still build some homes on part of it.
Although Gee could not be reached before AFN’s deadline, the Foothills Club West HOA board released a statement to residents saying the four men, who called themselves The Edge, closed escrow and are renaming the course “The Park at Club West.”
The board also asked for a limited number of residents to join a committee that it is forming to “help define and establish the needs of the community and to assure that they are addressed.”
“The new owner has contacted the Foothills Club West HOA board to establish a meeting to discuss what their hopes and plans for the property will be,” the statement said, although it did not indicate when that meeting would be held or if any resident will be allowed to attend, whether in-person or virtually.
“The new owners stated that they have changed their original plans for development and a golf course to a limited amount of development and a maximum amount of open park space,” the board said. “Community input is being requested as this will drive their proposed final plans for the property.”
The Edge had been in escrow on the property for months after a previous group of investors who had been in escrow to buy it walked away from the deal, saying Gee’s asking price of $850,000 was too high for the amount of work that would be needed to restore the 18-hole course.
The Edge presented a plan to Club West in January that proposed restructuring the course but keeping it at 18 holes and building a new clubhouse.
But the lynchpin of that plan was selling three sections of the course to Taylor Morrison for construction of 162 houses, mostly two-story homes.
That riled a number of homeowners, particularly the 357 who paid premium-lot prices of as much as $60,000 to have property next to the golf course.
A nonprofit called the Club West Conservancy was formed by some of those residents as well as other homeowners who opposed the obstruction to views that houses would create for some homeowners.
Opposition was strong enough to prompt Taylor Morrison to pull out of its tentative deal with The Edge.
The sale climaxes three years of frustration for Gee but also comes at a time when the Conservancy is suing the board over the way it changed the land use regulations governing the site.
A hearing on that suit has not yet been scheduled and could affect the way homeowners would be asked to vote on any new plan presented by The Edge, which has dropped any golf course from its plans, presumably because it wouldn’t be selling enough land for enough homes to pay for it.
The Conservancy, which proposes a preserve or a park for the site, is accusing the board of violating the HOA’s bylaws by not submitting its changes to the course’s land-use regulations for a community-wide vote. It argues any changes must be approved by 75 percent of the landowners.
The Club West board’s changes make it possible for as few as about 400 homeowners to approve a change in the way the golf course would be used. The board has asked Superior Court to dismiss the Conservancy’s suit.
The course was closed in the summer of 2016 after Gee said he could no longer afford to pay more than $700,000 a year for city water to irrigate it.
Homeowner Jim Lindstrom then put together a detailed plan that called for homeowners to buy the course, with each paying a portion of the rehabilitation and maintenance costs that would be based on the number of homeowners who participated in his plan.
But Lindstrom couldn’t secure enough interest and the course remained in disrepair until fall of 2017, when an Ahwatukee man, Richard Brueninger, reached a deal with Gee to buy it for $1 million. He restored the site to a luxurious green and reopened it for play until he fell in arrears by more than $160,000 on his city water bill. The city shut off the water, the course deteriorated quickly, and after a prolonged legal battle with Gee, Brueninger was out.
In September 2018, Gee put the course up for sale, pricing it at $850,000.