Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Gazette Premium Content Garden of the Gods Club to go up for sale

WAYNE HEILMAN Updated: January 30, 2013 at 12:00 am

The partnership that owns the Garden of the Gods Club and related properties will soon put them on the market to focus on developing high-end lots in the Kissing Camels area.

Garden of the Gods Club LLC, a joint venture of Palm Desert, Calif.-based Sunrise Co. and J. Thomas Schmidt LLC of Colorado Springs, hopes by mid-summer to sell the club complex that includes 66 guest rooms, a 27-hole golf course, a 43,000-square-foot main building, 21,000-square-foot golf clubhouse and 7,50-square-foot recreation center, said Dirk Gosda, president of Sunrise’s Colorado Division. He said the partnership is in the process of hiring a resort broker to market the property and hasn’t set an asking price.

The partnership paid $24.75 million in 2007 to Dallas-based Hill Development Corp. for the club and about 300 acres of undeveloped land in the upscale Kissing Camels Estates and surrounding developments, and restructured the club’s membership base from mostly national to mostly local.

“We feel like it is a good time to sell the club,” Gosda said. “The club’s income has increased by 25 percent since we bought it and the occupancy rate of our rooms has more than doubled from the 20 to 30 percent range to 55 percent last year. While we had close to 1,000 members resign, we had 900 new members join and in the process the club became much more local. We have gone from about 30 percent of our membership base being local to about 70 percent today. In the past, most of our members came here for short visits in the summer.”

Since acquiring the club and surrounding property, the partnership has generated about $15 million from selling off lots to homebuilders, Gosda said. Sunrise will continue to develop lots and sell them, including some property zoned for apartment development, he said. Although the Colorado Springs housing market made a dramatic recovery last year with housing construction and sales surging by double-digit levels, he said the market for lots in Kissing Camels has been slower to improve than the rest of the local market.

The club at 3320 Mesa Road has about 1,600 members and employs about 200 people year-around with up to 200 more employees working there on a seasonal basis, generating an annual payroll totaling $5 million, Gosda said. Since buying the club, Sunrise spent about $5 million remodeling the club and golf courses.

Sunrise also operates three other country clubs in California, Nevada and Texas as well as two other housing developments in California and Nevada. During the past 40 years the company has developed 11 other country clubs and nine other housing developments, mostly in Southern California.

The late Dallas oilman Al Hill bought the entire 1,600-acre mesa just east of Garden of the Gods Park in 1949, and built and opened the Garden of the Gods Club in 1951 and the Kissing Camels Golf Club in 1960. Much of the club was demolished and rebuilt in 1995.

Contact Wayne Heilman: 636-0234 Twitter @wayneheilman
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