Cordillera homeowners angling to buy club | VailDaily.com

Cordillera homeowners angling to buy club

EDWARDS, Colorado – A group of Cordillera homeowners say they want the money in hand to buy the Club at Cordillera if the current owners go belly up.

Some Cordillera homeowners are putting together two November ballot questions that would enable them to buy the club if they need to. The plan will help put minds at ease around Cordillera, and calm potential real estate buyers, members say.

“The Cordillera Golf Club assets would be purchased only in the event of a bankruptcy or foreclosure,” the proposal says.

No one has approached the bank, and no one has called a formal meeting, members said Monday.

Club at Cordillera owner David Wilhelm and the Wilhelm Family Partnership owe Alpine Bank $12.5 million.

“We’re only paying 6 percent with Alpine Bank,” Wilhelm said. “They’ve been terrific.”

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Wilhelm sent a letter to members earlier this month saying they would be $6 million short of being able to pay the bills this year. They asked members to help sell new memberships, and 6 percent responded. They also asked members for individual loans of up to $35,000.

“He likes to strut around like a peacock. The problem is that peacocks can’t fly and neither will this,” said Lou Schultz, a Cordillera owner and outspoken Wilhelm critic.

The first ballot question would authorize the Cordillera Metro District to buy the club and its facilities at any time in the next four years, if the current or future owner stops operating the golf club and non-golf facilities.

The second would raise $15 million to buy it through bonds the metro district would sell, according to an outline of the plan obtained by the Vail Daily. It would increase a Cordillera homeowner’s property taxes by about $3,300 a year, the proposal said.

The Cordillera Property Owners Association is holding a meeting this afternoon.

The two questions would be decided by Cordillera’s 338 registered voters. They have until Sept. 3 to make it official.

“They can put it on the ballot and be in a position to buy it as a backup measure,” Wilhelm said. “As a backup it might be OK, but everyone I’ve talked to prefers that it remain a private club.”

If the metro district ends up with it, the private club might not be so private. A public entity like the Cordillera Metro District could not keep it as an exclusively private club.

“While it is preferred that the CGC is privately owned, this cannot be assured,” the proposal says.

Cordillera owners took a run at buying it once before. They offered former owner Felix Posen $24 million, but Wilhelm closed before they could.

Wilhelm says the Wilhelm Family Partnership acquired the Club at Cordillera from Posen as part of a legal settlement.

After Wilhelm’s letter went to Club at Cordillera members, many of those members expressed their frustration at two town hall meetings. Several demanded to see the club’s financials. Wilhelm told members the club’s financials would be made transparent at the appropriate time.

Members say there’s no time like the present.

Cordillera has 650 members with around 300 on a waiting list trying to get out. Some of those 300 are required to pay their 2011 dues, depending on when they went on the list. Club at Cordillera dues are $11,000 a year.

The Club at Cordillera can accommodate 1,085 golfing members.

Wilhelm’s attorney, Dennis Hillier, put together the original membership agreement when Cordillera launched in the early 1990s. Hillier says there are simply not enough dues-payers to make Cordillera break even.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or rwyrick@vaildaily.com.