Country Club, buyer extend sale talks

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Rancho Murieta Country Club and its prospective buyer have agreed to extend their negotiations to the end of May, the club said Tuesday.

“We did sign another extension today,” Vince Lepera, club president, said in a brief interview. “We’ve now run it through the end of May.” The prospective buyer is golf industry veteran James A. (Bob) Husband, heading a company called Bellagio Road LLC.

In late April, the club said it would need a 10-day extension to close the deal.

The possibility of the sale emerged publicly 15 months ago. Husband offered to advance the club the money to buy the property from its landlord, the North developers. The club would then sell itself to Husband for $1,000.

Club members voted 422-17 in favor of the sale in late March 2016. In December, the club announced buyer and seller had agreed on a price: $4 million. 

Along the way, Lepera said, there have been minor title company issues and problems trying to determine property lines where homes have encroached on club property. “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see there’s a lot of property out there; there’s definitely encroachment," Lepera said. "Property boundaries have changed.”

Lepera said the issue had to be fully understood. Now that the issue is understood, Lepera said Husband is comfortable moving ahead with the sale without making a big issue of the property infringements.

The club's late-April announcement said there was still a negotiating sticking point that is important to the club's long-term financial viability. Lepera wouldn't elaborate, but he did say he was confident the issue can be addressed.

Addressing whispers among members that Bellagio is underfunded, Lepera said that's nonsense. “I know for a fact, as of 60 days ago, (Husband) had $8 million in his checking account, slotted for the club,” Lepera said. “I know that for a fact, because I have copies of the info from the bank.”

Husband has held focus groups with members this year, trying to determine what offerings present members and prospective members would value.

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