It took longer than expected, but plans for major upgrades to the Homestead Country Club in Prairie Village go before the City Council for final approval on Monday.
If they are approved, the property’s new owner, Dennis Hulsing, hopes to revitalize the club at 6510 Mission Road that has been a Prairie Village institution for more than half a century. It had fallen on hard times before Hulsing purchased the property late last year.
On May 1, the city planning commission unanimously endorsed plans to expand and enhance the club’s fitness, recreation and dining offerings, to enclose some of the tennis courts in a new permanent building, to add pickleball courts and to beautify the Olympic-sized pool area. The City Council votes May 21 on the special-use permit for the club’s operation.
The developer originally had hoped for approval months ago, but the process of addressing neighborhood concerns about drainage took longer than expected. Nearby residents attributed runoff problems to the property long before Hulsing bought it. They feared additional runoff from the construction and expanded parking lot.
Hulsing, who now calls Prairie Village home but also owns thriving racquet clubs in North Carolina, says the drainage upgrades required by the city are designed to alleviate any further potential problems.
“We definitely made a lot of adjustments, but at the end of the day I think it’s all good,” he said. “We wanted to be a good neighbor.”
His goal is to create one of the metro area's best family-oriented racquet, fitness and swim clubs, with a renovated clubhouse for dining and socializing.
If the City Council approves it, he predicts all the improvements can be finished by the end of the year. He declines to say how much he’s investing but says it is “substantial,” and it will require no incentives.
Hulsing, an avid tennis and fitness enthusiast, was a hospitality executive with Marriott and Omni hotels before he went into business for himself. He now owns hotels, medical supply companies, apartments, organic grocers and a sleep lab.
He lived in Mission Hills in 2003 and joined Homestead, which at the time was a vibrant club with more than 500 memberships. During the recession, it dwindled like many other family-oriented private clubs.
When Hulsing returned to the area in 2015, Homestead’s membership had dropped to fewer than 300. A group of investors raised the money to keep the club afloat, but it was struggling and dealing with deferred maintenance challenges. A friend connected Hulsing in 2017 with those investors, and he purchased the property last November, pledging to do a major upgrade.
His goal is to increase membership ultimately to about 700. Marketing Manager Becky Ludovissie said memberships now total about 325, including about 30 new memberships in April as people have seen Hulsing putting money back into the facilities, including newly resurfaced tennis courts. The club will have 16 tennis courts, including four that will be enclosed in a permanent building for all-weather play. That new building will replace what many had seen as an “eyesore” bubble that had outlasted its usefulness.
Ludovissie said anyone in the metro area can apply for membership, and applications are available by calling the club at 913-262-4100. She declined to discuss pricing but said they have different membership category costs for individuals, couples and families.
Marti Levy, president of the nearby Indian Fields neighborhood association, said some neighbors were in favor of the project and others who live directly north or south of the property had water runoff concerns . She emphasized she doesn’t live right near the club and is not taking sides in the debate.
“He’s having to correct problems that predate his ownership,” she said of Hulsing. “And he has said in good faith he will do these things.”
Levy noted that two independent engineers have said the underground drainage solution should work, if the improvements are done as prescribed.
The property’s conditional use permit also requires that it follow the city’s noise ordinance, provide new landscaping, and minimize the outdoor lighting after 10 p.m.
Assistant City Administrator Jamie Robichaud said there was community support for the project.
“We didn’t hear anyone that asked the plan commission to vote against it,” she said. “They just asked that the city do its due diligence to address drainage, lighting and traffic.”