By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
An overgrown, abandoned golf course in Pennsylvania.
In Belle Oaks Golf Club on Taylor Bayou, Texas, homeowners who were counting on a golf course view and a private boat launch are out of luck. Developer Bryan Phleps has informed homeowners that, for economic reasons, he won’t be moving forward with plans to keep the golf course.
Homeowners had also been promised a gated entry and a private access boat launch, but the gate was never added. Now one owner, Dolores Duhon, is calling upon Phelps to buy back her house for breaking his agreement to provide amenities that she says were promised at the time she purchased her home in 2014.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it’s very unlikely that Phelps will be buying out homeowners. More than likely, the developer included a disclaimer somewhere in the fine print of her sales contract. It’s not all that uncommon for developers to promise all kinds of wonderful amenities to early buyers, only to break those promises a few years later when sales don’t pan out.
So much for the concept that HOAs protect property values. Without the promised golf course and private boat launch, values of the bayou homes have fallen significantly.
According to KBMT news, Phelps still promises to build the gated entry. Owners think it is needed for added safety. In reality, gated communities are not necessarily safer than non-gated communities. Besides, once the HOA has a gate, it also owns the roads. That means significantly higher maintenance costs for homeowners.
A little background information: Located in eastern Texas just over the Louisiana border, Belle Oakes golf course was created in 1954. The course was struggling in 2002, when Phelps and development partner Jerry Braxton purchased the course adjacent to their then-planned 84-lot residential development. At the time, the plan was to refurbish the course, relocate a few of the holes, and build a club house. The duo aggressively marketed their new homes and the golf course.
In 2006, Hurricane Rita did considerable damage to the course, taking down many trees. No doubt, the unexpected costs were a blow to Phelps and Braxton. Of course, the real estate market tanked soon afterward. But interest in golf has been waning for many years, and the business has become unprofitable for club owners. So it’s no surprise that yet another golf course has come to its demise.
Juan Rodriguez, KBMT