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Snake River development may be revived by buyer

Sporting club at Astoria under contract, Texas real estate broker says.
By Kevin Huelsmann, Jackson Hole News&Guide
November 14, 2012

The Snake River Sporting Club is under contract with a “highly qualified” buyer, a Dallas real estate broker said Monday.

The purchaser has “interests” in Jackson said Robert Grunnah, president of investments at the Henry S. Miller Brokerage. He wouldn’t name the person.

The 359-acre property, which sits 15 miles south of Jackson, was put under contract last month and is expected to close in mid-December, Grunnah said.

“If this purchaser buys it, it will be the last of the problematic investors,” he said.

The two sides are working through legal issues now, mostly pertaining to the title for the property, Grunnah said. The club has been through two bankruptcy cases, and there are many parties who have a stake in the project.

Foreclosure proceedings have been going on for several years, and were only recently finalized. Wells Fargo, which foreclosed on the property, started taking offers in August.

“Lenders, developers, former members of the golf club, contractors ... there’s a lot of interest in that property,” Grunnah said.

The potential owner of the sporting club doesn’t plan to stray from the already approved, and partially completed, plans for the property, he said.

A brochure says the property has a “90 percent complete, 23,000-square-foot clubhouse” that “only requires minimal cosmetic and mechanical work to be fully functional.”

There’s also an 18-hole golf course the brochure says has been maintained well enough over the last few years that it could quickly be restored.

The property was approved for 65 single-family homes. Forty-three of these lots have been sold, the brochure says. Additionally, there are three cabin sites with partially completed homes on them.

All of the utilities are in place for the property. Roughly six miles of roads have been built within the stalled development.

“Snake River Sporting Club offers a unique opportunity to complete a pristine development that has taken years of effort to achieve,” the brochure says. “Possessing title to land in Teton County in [itself] is a rare opportunity to have, and to have a majority of the entitlements in place is even more difficult.”

The sporting club was approved by county officials in 2003 as a planned residential development.

The development stalled in 2008, when the national economy hit the skids. Sales at the property were slow, and soon liens filed by contractors against the club’s owners began to pile up. Wells Fargo started foreclosure proceedings on the property in 2010.

Meanwhile, county officials foreclosed on more than $6 million in bonds on the property. They used the money to complete infrastructure at the site that would allow people who did buy lots within the development to access and use their property.

The county hired contractors to pave roads into the property and install water and sewer lines, among other items. 

The overall development approval will likely remain in place, as construction at the property had started, thereby creating a vested right, planning staffers said. However, a new owner would have to get permits to do specific work on the land.

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