Cordillera cash clash continues |

Cordillera cash clash continues

EDWARDS, Colorado – Club at Cordillera dues are going up for 2011, and members will pay them into an escrow account with a local bank.

It’s the latest development in Cordillera’s cash clash between club members and club owner David Wilhelm, who acquired it in June 2009.

Some members have threatened to withhold their dues since the club’s financial woes were brought to light last summer.

Club at Cordillera full members will pay $13,800 for 2011, up from around $11,000 last year, a 25 percent increase. Social members will pay $4,500. That will raise about $8 million, if all of the Club’s 650 members participate.

If that’s still not enough money to cover costs, Wilhelm says they’ll cut services.

“In the event there is a large disparity in the amount of dues collected, the level of services will have to be adjusted accordingly,” Wilhelm said in a letter to club members.

The Cordillera Transition Corporation points out that it was not given details as to what constitutes a “large disparity,” and what those service reductions might be. The committee was created from Cordillera’s far-flung boards “to promote and protect the interests of the Cordillera property owners and the members of The Club at Cordillera.”

“The members feel good about the escrow account and with the assurances that the money will stay in Cordillera,” said Bob Vanourek, chairman of the CTC.

Since Wilhelm acquired the club in June 2009, and through October 2010, The Club at Cordillera has “experienced cash losses of approximately $10.7 million,” according to an accounting review by the Cordillera Transition Committee.

Last year’s membership dues raised $8 million, and Premier Membership sales raised another $5 million.

“Members were asking where the money went,” Vanourek said.

The CTC’s accountants sat down with the Wilhelms’ accountants and they scoured the books, Vanourek said. They found that the money within Cordillera, the audit found.

On July 30, the world changed for Club at Cordillera members and Cordillera homeowners.

In a letter to Club members, Wilhelm said the club was running millions in the red in 2010, and he’d do whatever was necessary to protect the Cordillera brand and make his business profitable. His cost-cutting options included closing one or two of Cordillera’s four courses and allowing public play.

“We completely underestimated the magnitude and negative effects of the economic recession,” said David Wilhelm, chairman of the Wilhelm Family Trust, which acquired the Club at Cordillera.

A series of angry and contentious meetings followed, and from that emerged the Cordillera Transition Committee.

Wilhelm attributes some of the Club’s financial troubles to plummeting membership sales, he said in his letter. He also increased operating costs to upgrade services, he said in the letter.

He had counted on referral sales from current members to help fund the costs of increased services, he said, but almost none materialized.

Members lashed back when they felt Wilhelm was blaming them for the club’s financial woes.

“We were wrong to insinuate any blame on the members,” Wilhelm wrote. “That was never the intention, although we realize it was the perception.”

When Wilhelm took on the club, he also took on more than $100 million in obligations to some of Cordillera’s original members and investors, the CTC says. Some of those members are supposed to start getting their money back in less than 15 years.

Wilhelm and the Club also owe Alpine Bank $12.5 million.

Wilhelm and his family acquired the Club at Cordillera from Felix Posen in June 2009, but “did not have the benefit of the $7.6 million in members’ dues, which were mostly used by the previous owners.”

Wilhelm has publically made that statement about Posen repeatedly. So far, Posen has refused to comment on it. He is currently making his home in Europe.

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