The bankrupt Garland, Texas club was closed in January and is slated to be sold for development. Continuing to operate the property as a club, which hosted the Texas Women’s Open for 10 years, is no longer a viable business model, says the realtor soliciting bids, which are expected to start at $4 million.
Full repayment is likely for many creditors in the forced sale of the bankrupt Eastern Hills Country Club, The Dallas Morning News has reported. But homeowners in Garland, Texas are likely to lose the golf course that has been the centerpiece of the 60-year-old neighborhood and has protected them from having more homes encroach on their views and properties.
With a solid offer of $3.9 million and bidding to start at $4 million, the sale of Eastern Hills will pay off the club’s debts, the News reported But for residents, Garland’s Club Hill subdivision without the club is an empty proposition.
“We wanted the serene hills, valleys, trees and pond to enjoy. The nature watching is just great. Now what is going to happen to all of that?” asked Linda Brownlee, who is living in her third home along the golf course.
Until gates were padlocked and phones were disconnected in January, Eastern Hills gave Garland’s first affluent subdivision summers at the pool, formal events, a regular meeting spot for its service organizations and the like, the News reported.
Interest in the property has been strong, it was noted. In less than six weeks since accepting the appointment to handle the sale, Realtor Candace Rubin sent out 91 information packets, and eleven bids have been received for more than the club’s $2.4 million in debt, the News reported.
But Rubin said Eastern Hills, which hosted for the Texas Women’s Open from 2001 to 2011, is not viable to continue as a country club, because that business model no longer works in aging South Garland.
While new ownership of the property hasn’t been determined yet, many feel that the Club Hill section is most likely to now have a new generation of high-end homes instead of its golf course, the News reported.
“A bazillion homes ain’t gonna happen,” Rubin said. “There’s one way in and out on a very quiet, small residential street. It’s a beautiful piece of land.”
While the current leading offer, $3.9 million, is from a month-old corporation, H&M Eastern Hills, the News reported, Bankruptcy trustee Robert Yacquinto and Rubin believe other qualified buyers may appear at an April 15 court hearing to present higher and better offers.
Brian Mier, the attorney representing H&M Eastern Hills, did not offer information regarding his client’s intentions for the property.
But some of the money, the News reported, is earmarked for “equity members,” a group of about 50 who put up money to save the club from bankruptcy in 2006. They are due a $500,000 buyout with the sale.
The equity members reached out to the city to see if it would be interested in operating the golf course, the News reported, but the discussion never got to the council level. The city of Garland already operates 63 holes at Firewheel Golf Park and did not get involved when another country club in the city was closed by bankruptcy in late 2010.
While charged with marketing the property, Rubin’s staff has held open houses on Sunday afternoons, allowing members past the locked gates to clean out their lockers, the News reported.
“I feel really bad for the members, for the people that bought houses on a country club,” she said.
As homes sell over generations, experts say, the new owners who are drawn to the open space of a golf course may not necessarily be golfers willing to pay for a country club, the News noted. Property values on the golf course will take a hit without the club, but the bankruptcy and land-use change will have far less impact on home sales within a couple of blocks.
Realtor Anne Martinkus, an Eastern Hills club member since 1977, currently lists two homes within a block of the locked front gate, the News reported. She believes that the vast majority of residents in Club Hill are committed to South Garland, however, and promised that they will flock to City Hall when minimum square footage and the quality of homes are discussed as part of repurposing the property.
“Thankfully, the area is surrounded by nice-sized homes,” Martinkus told the News. “We have faith in our city government that it will help maintain the integrity of the South Garland area by making sure when it is rezoned from parks to residential, if that happens, the zoning will be for like homes.”