Board members of Houston Botanic Garden, a nonprofit formed in 2002 that’s been looking to bring a big-time garden to the city ever since, have had their eyes on several properties, including the KBR site in the Fifth Ward. But it’s the 150 acres home to the 18-hole Gus Wortham Golf Course — the oldest in Texas — that they are after now. The course, which includes a driving range, is owned by the city, and Jeff Ross, president of the garden club, explains that the organization hopes to ink a “long-term lease” that would allow it to “repurpose the property,” much like the 55-acre VanDusen Botanical Garden had done with the old Shaughnessy Golf Club in Vancouver. Ross explains that this repurposing could mean reserving as many as 65 acres for a 9-hole course — which could be built from scratch or involve a kind of rejiggering of the existing holes — and setting up the gardens on the remaining 85-90 relatively hilly acres that roll here toward Brays Bayou.
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COMMENT OF THE DAY: BURY ME AT HOLE 18 “I’ll tell ya, country clubs and cemeteries [are the] biggest wasters of prime real estate. My partial solution: Combine the two! All you have to do is build a couple of extra holes (a 20 or 21 hole golf course) so you can close a hole or two when a hole is ‘needed’ to welcome a new permanent resident. Markers (flush to the ground, of course) can double as distance markers. (‘It used to be an 8 iron from ole Ted to the green for me, but now it seems to be a 7′). Perpetual maintenance? No problem! Additional revenue for the facility? No doubt! Just remember where you heard it first.” [Al, commenting on Homebuilders Playing Through Old Katy Golf Course]
HOMEBUILDERS PLAYING THROUGH OLD KATY GOLF COURSE Just flip the sand traps to sandboxes and the water hazards to water features, and you’re most of the way there: A 440-home master-planned community, reports The Rancher’s Zach Haverkamp, is aimed for the site of the old Green Meadows Golf Course in Katy: Lennar Homes, Meritage Homes, and Village Builders have started construction on the first model homes of the Falls at Green Meadows on the 242-acre, 36-hole course groomed out of the prairie near Franz Rd. and Avenue D. The course was open from 1965 to 2008. Developer Tim Fitzpatrick tells Haverkamp: “We wanted to be in the heart of Katy, and if you look around, this is one of the few tracts . . . that remain.” [The Rancher] Photo: Zach Haverkamp
An investor in a possibly nonexistent real-estate venture headed by his friend Billy Frank Davis tells Chronicle reporter Mike Tolson that Davis didn’t let on to his friends that other friends had also invested with him: “He didn’t want word of mouth. Bill’s image was always the most important thing to him. He always portrayed himself as a very successful and wealthy person. Everybody thought Bill had money.” On Monday, the disbarred attorney pled guilty to a single count of wire fraud in connection with a Ponzi scheme that bilked his friends and golfing buddies at the Champions Golf Club, the River Oaks Country Club, and the Braeburn Country Club out of $7.8 million. According to Tolson’s report, however, the losses may have been much higher than that.
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The price Missouri City is paying to purchase the former Quail Valley Country Club from golf-course speculator Mark Voltmann’s Renaissance Golf Group was adjusted from $3.1 million up to $7.4 million last week — 2 years after the city acquired the 390-acre property by eminent domain, and one day before a dispute over the price was set to go to trial. Renaissance claimed the property was worth about $14 million, but at the time of the sale it was listed for $6.59 million by the appraisal district.
Renaissance’s plans to rezone a 17.5-acre portion of the site to allow for a development of 54 Ryland Homes homesites were rejected by the city’s planning and zoning commission in 2006.
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STUCK IN THOSE NEIGHBORHOOD SAND TRAPS The Ohio investor who bought up 3 Houston community golf courses over the last decade, then sold the one in Quail Valley to Missouri City a couple of years ago, is running into a few obstacles in his attempts to sell the other 2 to developers: “The latest roadblock came with a jury verdict late last year that would prohibit the use of the land that once served as the Inwood Forest Country Club for any purpose other than a golf course. . . . The Harris County jury found that the Inwood Forest golf property contained an ‘implied reciprocal negative easement,’ [Inwood Forest homeowners association member Julie] Grothues said. In plain English, that means that an owner of the course is bound to keep it as a course even though the original deed has no such restrictive covenant. The lawyer for the homeowners association argued that the course was an essential component of the neighborhood, and that allowing it to be cut up for development would irrevocably change the character of the community and the value of the homes.”
Is Mark Voltmann’s game going any better at the shuttered Clear Lake Golf Club? “The deed for the Clear Lake property contains a restriction preventing owners from using it for anything but a golf course or recreational facility until 2021. Voltmann has filed suit to try to bust the deed restrictions. In theory, success could translate into a big payday, as a portion of the property has good commercial potential. But the Inwood verdict is looming. If it stands up, homeowners could use the same argument to stymie him again.” [Houston Chronicle; listing]
MISSOURI CITY POISED TO TAKE OVER QUAIL VALLEY COUNTRY CLUB BY EMINENT DOMAIN “City officials decided to try to purchase the property because of fears that the owners would shutter the club and redevelop the site. If the club were closed, city officials and many residents feared, property values in the city would plummet.” The city would run a golf club and park on the 390-acre lot. Price: $3.1 million. [Houston Chronicle]