The St. Francisville, La., property, which closed in March 2009 and was later acquired by The Bluffs Renaissance LLC in September 2015, is now open to the public and an open house is planned for April 3 to showcase improvements. Upcoming plans include renovating a jogging trail, updating the golf course, and developing a spa.
The Bluffs on Thompson Creek in St. Francisville, La., is now open to the public, and an open house is planned for April 3 to showcase improvements that have already been made to the clubhouse and golf course under new ownership, and the management of Honours Golf, the Baton Rouge, La., Business Report reported.
The facility was founded in 1988 with the construction of an Arnold Palmer-designed golf course and a 300-home master plan. The surrounding development, however, has been hindered by its former ownership. Local developer and investor Jim Tanner acquired the project in 2006 and set out on an ambitious plan, which included building a new clubhouse and turning the lodge into condos for sale. Tanner developed additional lots, and the project had begun to gain some momentum by the time Tanner’s other investments and developments caused The Bluffs’ demise. After making the club private and then trying to sell it, the golf course closed in March 2009, Report reported.
Claude Penn acquired Tanner’s ownership in 2009 and then purchased the clubhouse from First American Bank, which had acquired it from Tanner. Penn paid $1.1 million for the clubhouse, which many estimated to be around 20% of the cost of construction. The course was put back into service and continued to operate until it was acquired by The Bluffs Renaissance LLC, owned and operated by Richard “Jerry” Dodson and Kenneth Carter, Report reported.
The two acquired the property in September 2015 for a reported price of $100 and other valuable consideration. Dodson would not reveal the true price they paid, but it had been offered for sale by Penn for over $10 million at one time, Report reported.
The new owners have had multiple meetings with the Property Owners Association of The Bluffs and are listening to what the residents have to say about what should be done next. The new owners have turned the management over to Honours Golf, based in Birmingham, Ala., which has hired a management team for the course as well as a sales and marketing director, who will be responsible for increasing events like weddings and corporate retreats, Report reported.
“We have plenty of demand for destination weddings, but we need additional places for people to stay overnight, so we have plans to add 21 more lodge units with full kitchens,” said Dodson. “There is also a five-acre parcel next to the clubhouse overlooking Thompson Creek that is prime for a hotel, and we are looking for someone to develop a boutique hotel.”
Plans also include improving subdivision amenities, such as renovating the three-mile long jogging trail that extends into the wooded areas adjoining the development. There are several tracts that can be developed with additional lots, but the new owners’ main focus seems to be getting the golf course back into shape, increasing the number of rounds being played and providing enough lodging so the property can accommodate larger groups. Plans also include the development of a spa with massage therapy near the workout facility, Report reported.
The new owners have no debt on the property, which should increase their potential for success. “We see this as a long term investment, not something that we will turn around quickly,” said Dodson.