Northeast Joco

August 22, 2014

Homestead Country Club seeks bankruptcy protection

The filing is an effort to remain in operation, rather than becoming a residential development.

In an effort to save Homestead Country Club from becoming a residential development, representatives of the club filed for bankruptcy earlier this week.

Homestead Country Club, at 6510 Mission Road, on Tuesday filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, a move that could allow the club to remain open pending a ruling from the bankruptcy court.

Unlike other types of bankruptcy, Chapter 11 allows a business to restructure and remain in operation if their restructure plan is accepted.

In November the club’s bank, Valley View Bank, sold the $3.1 million loan to Park Place Partners LLC developers Jeffrey Alpert and Melanie Mann.

Originally Mann and Alpert had requested a summary judgment to move forward with foreclosure and develop the property, which would have meant the end of Homestead Country Club. Now they must wait for the bankruptcy court to decide, which could be a long process.

Mann said they’d like to develop the area into high-end community with 30 to 35 homes. The neighborhood would be similar to Park Place Partner’s other developments like Park Place, The Woods or Edgewood in Leawood.

The property is one of the last remaining green spaces in the area. Neighborhoods around the club have many teardowns, where developers purchase properties and then tear them down and rebuild the homes before reselling at a much higher value.

Mann said starting from scratch, the way they could with the Homestead property, is a better way to create a “community feel” than building houses lot by lot.

Attempts to contact Homestead chairman Cyd Nelson and others about the bankruptcy were unsuccessful.

J.C. Nichols established the club on just under 15 acres in 1952.

Prior to filing for bankruptcy, Nelson had said the club was hopeful it could find a buyer that would allow them to continue operating on about 9 acres at the back of the property where the clubhouse, pool and tennis courts are and sell off the 5-acre lawn along Mission Road to pay off debt.

“We would have really enjoyed seeing that space become a park and preserve green space in that area,” Nelson said. “We’re open to building homes there too.”

Like many businesses, suburban country clubs took a hit with the recession in 2008. Meadowbrook, also in Prairie Village, was sold to VanTrust Real Estate in 2010.

Nelson would not give specifics about Homestead club membership, but said the numbers have stabilized.

“Our members are very loyal,” she said.

Nelson said membership information is confidential, but a March article in The Star reported membership has fallen from about 500 in the 1990s to 320 today, or about 36 percent.

She said the club has had conversations with a number of interested buyers, but wouldn’t disclose specifics.

Recently the club was hopeful the city of Prairie Village would buy the land and use it as a park. But on Aug. 6, city officials announced that they had ceased conversations about buying a chunk of the property.

City Administrator Quinn Bennion said a number of complications lea to the city’s decision to end the conversation. Most city council conversations about the country club took place in closed session with the city attorney, which is common when a city is discussing buying land.

Chief among the concerns is a 1955 deed that appears to forbid the use of the land as a park or anything other than single-family homes. The land “may be used and occupied only for the purpose of operating thereon a country club … and or no other purpose or purposes whatsoever.”

Later language says the land “shall be used for private residences purposes only.”

“It would be pretty complicated to amend it,” Bennion said.

The council also could not agree on the price and size of the lot. The city would have liked to purchase about four acres, but Bennion said the exact size and the price changed several times during discussion.

The council was unanimous in favor of improving the city’s parks, Bennion said, but with other park projects in place, including a $500,000 renovation of city tennis courts, he said the council decided against adding a new park.

“The council is open to purchasing other green space in the future,” he said.

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