The Turnberry Property Owners Association Board, meeting at RedTail Golf Club, was packed with people from the over 300 homes in the Lakewood subdivision.
They were there to hear Lakewood Village Board President Erin Smith and Trustee Gene Furey tell what they knew about a Korean investor’s plan to turn the Turnberry Country Club into a upscale resort, complete with 240 condominiums and 60 rooms to be rented to those attending events.
Smith was speaking when I arrived about an hour late.
She said that the proposal is “the only one that could possibly consistent with the [subdivision] covenants.”
Before getting an attorney’s opinion, some thought the new construction would not even have to go to the Village Board.
Smith said the earliest a presentation could be made by the developer, J.P. Asset Management Company would be March.
She urged people to “keep enough of an open mind so we might have some opportunity to change something” and asked,
“What happens if we manage to chase this guy out of town?
“There are no other options.”
The Village President, who lives on one of the fairways, said, “The bank does not intend to open the country club next year.”
She said $1-2 million would buy acreage,plus another couple of million to rehabilitate the property.
“The Village cannot do anything with this property.”
That’s because of the subdivision covenants, which would take two-thirds of the property owners to change.
The same goes for the Crystal Lake Park District and the McHenry County Conservation District. The fertilizer on the golf course would make it cost-prohibitive for the Conservation District to convert it to natural areas, she revealed.
“I’m not trying to scare people,” she added.[but} “the bank is losing hundreds of thousands of dollars each year I would guess.”
Smith stated that the idea was not hers.
“We are only the messengers.
“Gene and I live on this golf course.
“This is literally in my back yard.”
Furey pointed out that he had been on the committee that studied golf courses to try to improve the village-owner golf course, RedTail.
“Nobody was doing better than we were–30,000 rounds.”
“We have a viable business.
“Turnberry, if I had to guess, has 20,000 rounds.”
He told the crowd he would do whatever the people wanted him to do.
But, during the question period, Furey pointed out that Plum Tree Golf Course is now grown over and its clubhouse has deteriorated.
“Just keeping Turnberry mowed would run “well into six figures.”
“Now is the time to get whatever we want.”
Smith pointed out that the condos are “central to the model,” but that it would be considered by the Village Board as a Planned Unit Development, which would provide more control on the part of the Board.
The developer needs the revenue stream from condo assessments to make the project work.
“You will tell what us what we’ll be asking for,” she said.
“Nobody wants this to be affordable housing,” she added.
“Mr. Park just wants to build something he’s proud of. He wants to have the best resort in the country,” Smith continued.
During the question and answer session, Smith referred to a “nuclear Holocaust,” by which she seemed to mean the result if the bank just walked away from the property.
She also said there was a strong possibility that the golf course would not open next year.
Then came questions.
One concerned whether the Park proposal would include RedTail.
“It’s not at the table at all,” the Village President replied.
Questions and comments then came from the audience concerning
- Traffic – comment made that roads were not adequate.
- Waste treatment – treatment plant has adequate capacity’
- Has an SSA been considered to finance the Country Club? Up to the property owners association to put such an idea forward.
- One woman commented that Park had done a good job at Barrington Shores Country Club.
- The bank has kept Turnberry open so far because it is a community bank, but it can operate it for only three more years.
- Highly skeptical that developer can get 250 units occupied full-time.
- Once that gets in our property values are going to go down.
- You had a meeting 2-3 weeks ago. Criticism of lack of transparency. Smith replied that she wanted to be able to answer questions and that was the reason for the delay.
- Can they develop as a matter of right? Smith seemed to reply with “maybe.”
- Brian Young said he appraises hotels and golf courses. “Just relax,” he said. ” Don’t take anything you see in the paper [as the truth]. I’ve yet to see anything like this remotely successful. It’s a $50 million project.” He said local “demand generators are extremely minimal. I think the financing is going to be the biggest obstacle. I don’t see it happening.”
- Plan is totally inconsistent with the community. To Smith: “You seem like you’re leaning toward it.”
- A Realtor pointed out that most condos in the area sell for less than $100,000. “They aren’t selling for $300,000,” the price she pointed out of some homes in Turnberry.
- “The solution is in this room,” a man said, then, suggested a Special Service Area assessment district be explored. He didn’t like “the nuclear option.”
- Alan Kanaby, President of the TPOA, but speaking as an individual, asked, “Why not say, ‘This dog won’t hunt.'”
- “WinTrust [the bank] really doesn’t own the country club. Another trust owns it. They already had a $2 million cash offer. It’s about getting $4 million.”
At this point a man asked for a show of hands of those who didn’t approve of the proposal.
And those in favor were asked to do the same. None raised their hands.
Smith told the crowd that she would pass on the opinion, “While I don’t appreciate the sarcasm.
“If you don’t trust me to be the messenger, I’m fine with that.
“It has ruined my life this week.”
A man suggested all in the audience call the developer…”Do it in a professional manner.”
- “This golf course has to be purchased. If you think someone is going to buy this and not make money, [you’re dreaming].
- “We’re going to look at a weed patch if we don’t listen to a developer [who will save it]. We all have a vested interest in somebody making money at Turnberry…I don’t think it would solve much to throw this gentleman to the lions.”
- “Property values are only going to get worse the longer this drags out.”
- Drainage problems will get worse.
- “Doubling the number of units in this community does not make sense.”
- A man worried about light pollution, noting that street lights are not even allowed.
- “We own Erin a thank you.”
Smith went home and Turnberry POA President Kanaby took over the meeting.
“I don’t think we want to chase a developer away,” he said, [but] the plan in front of us is unacceptable at any level.”
He pointed out that the 250 condos would almost double the current number of homes.
He also pointed to the possibility that Lakewood could have empty condos at Turnberry similar to the way Algonquin has at the main intersection Downtown.
“At some time somebody’s going to have to do something,” a board member stated.
Another expressed fear that the condos would become Section 8 housing.
“I don’t think this is the only game in town,” she added.
Board member John Schrauf observed, “The bank made a bad investment and they lost. Their concerns are not our concerns.
“It’s still going to be a condo development in a single family development.
Furey said that the value of the deed when it went to the bank was $3.2 million and that when Turnberry and Barrington Shores were put up for auction together there were no bids.
“We’re smart people. Please know we are on your side.”
A man in the audience said, “I don’t want negotiation. Let’s kill it now. I don’t want a commercial development in my neighborhood.”
Trustee Paul Serwatka, who stood silently until Smith left the room, said, “”I think we should cut it off before it grows legs.”
The POA Board is set to meet with its attorneys on Friday.
At the end of the meeting, Schrauf proposed a resolution opposing the development on the grounds that it did not fit in with the Lakewood motto of “Quality Living in a Natural Setting” and it “clearly violates the terms of the Turnberry subdivision covenants…that have been in effect for decades.
The motion passed 3-1 with two abstentions. Kanaby did not vote.
Attending the meeting sitting in the back row was Dan Wilbrandt, one of two candidates for State Representative in the room.