A deal that would have reopened the shuttered Club at Vistoso golf course fell through in November, leaving the future of the property in limbo and residents worried.
The deal, which would have sold the Oro Valley course to Phoenix-based course operator Parks Legacy Project for $3.5 million, fell through after a local resident came forth with a competing bid.
The key part of longtime course operator Alan Mishkin’s deal with former course owner, Romspen Mortgage Investment Firm of Canada, was that the Rancho Vistoso HOA would assist in covering the course’s $360,000 water bill. Mishkin, in exchange, would agree to spend around $2.5 million to update the course’s aging infrastructure, including its irrigation, club house and cart paths. Mishkin would also receive rezoning assistance on a portion of the course property, with 121 homes and 129 additional units of housing being built on a 100-acre plot of unused land on the property.
That rezoning effort would allow Mishkin’s group to bring the Tom Wiskopf-designed course to par with contemporary courses.
Another part of Mishkin’s deal would be for Parks Legacy Project to deed the 18-hole course to the HOA, with the consortium leasing the property back on a 100-year lease.
All of those conditions would allow Mishkin’s group to reopen the course, which closed to the public on June 6, 2018, with Mishkin’s group entering a Letter of Intent to purchase the property in August.
Mishkin said the stated conditions of his group’s planned acquisition of the property were vitally important, given the property’s lofty water bill and yearly losses in excess of $500,000.
“Even if you could manage of golf course exceptionally well, the very, very best you could do in this situation if you put in the money that’s required to repair it is to break even,” Mishkin said. “Under that scenario, there was no return on investment.”
Mishkin said he understands that the HOA was put in a hard place when a competing offer surfaced in October, but added that it created a difficult situation for all parties involved and put the future of the course in limbo.
The Rancho Vistoso HOA did not reply to requests for comment.
“There was no way that they could go back and send out another letter saying that they made a mistake,” Mishkin said. “There was too much egg on their face at that time.”
Mishkin is still interested in the property, but only if their previous stipulations are met. He estimates that the course’s putting greens, which have gone unwatered for months, will cost in excess of $40,000 a piece to rehabilitate, which could complicate matters further.
Mishkin, who’s operated 24 courses in the United States and Mexico, including the Biltmore Resort and Scottsdale Country Club in Phoenix, knows how much the course means to residents in the area.
His sentiment was reiterated by longtime Rancho Vistoso homeowners Pete and Phyllis Kessler, who’ve lived off the course’s 18th tee box for 20 years.
The Kesslers, like Mishkin alluded to, are worried about the future of the property, with their property values plummeting now that the course’s future is unknown.
“It could affect our property values,” Pete said. “So, we don’t know what’s going to happen. We hope for the best.”
President and CEO of the Oro Valley Chamber of Commerce Dave Perry shares Kessler’s concerns. Perry said he hopes the HOA can reach a deal with someone soon, so the town doesn’t suffer any economic impact from the loss in home values within the community.
“My immediate concern is for the neighbors and the community in Rancho Vistoso that reside near or adjacent to the golf club at Vistoso—they’re the highest priority in terms of trying to find a successful resolution,” Perry said. “A lot more broadly, Oro Valley would benefit by strong residential real estate values along the golf club, and whatever resolution is needed to help keep that buoyant, if you will, is beneficial to everybody.”
There are a lot of unanswered questions surrounding the course, but Mishkin is hopeful for a resolution in the new year.
Mishkin said he’s been in contact with a group of Vistoso residents that want the course reopened.
“I don’t know what to do, I called up the people who started the Save Vistoso committee and they had a meeting, and I told them that I’m still interested in buying it, but we have to move quickly,” Mishkin said.