Thursday, August 30, 2007

Fight Over Missouri City Courses May End in Eminent Domain Claim

Quail Valley Country Club in Missouri City is at the center of storm that has several different outcomes as possibilities: the current owners keep the courses open and begin turning a profit; the current owners close the courses and redevelop them into something different; the city of Missouri City buys the courses and opens them to the public; the city seizes the courses through eminent domain and has itself a new municipal facility.

The Houston Chronicle details the brewing battle in an article entitled, "Missouri City aims to save Quail Valley." (Visit if you're asked for a password.)

Quail Valley has 54 holes of golf, two regulation courses, one 9-hole executive and one 9-hole par-3. The club opened in the 1960s as the centerpiece of one of the very first "master-planned communities" in the Houston area. Its 18-holers were well-regarded, too: Quail Valley is a past site of the PGA Tour Houston Open.

But as the club and community around it aged, and golf options exploded in the Greater Houston Area, Quail Valley lost much of its sheen. Now, the club owners say, they are losing $1 million a year. And rumors abound that the owners want to plow under the courses and replace them with more houses. The owners deny that:

The Quail Valley Country Club is owned by the Ohio-based Renaissance Golf Group. Its president, Mark Voltmann, said the company's goal is not to redevelop the course but to operate it profitably.

"Clearly it is not our plan and never has been our plan," Voltmann said of rumors that the company wants to convert the golf courses into housing developments.

Quail Valley residents and Missouri City city leaders can be forgiven if they aren't reassured. They claim the loss of the golf courses would devastate the housing market, causing rapidly falling home prices (and lower tax revenues).

And Renaissance Golf Group hasn't endeared itself to the Houston golf community at large: The same company owns Inwood Forest, and that club is now closed; it may or may not re-open. The same company owns Clear Lake Golf Club, wants to redevelop it, and is currently in a battle with the city of Clear Lake whose water authority values the course for flood-control purposes.

So Missouri City has made an offer to Renaissance to purchase Quail Valley. If the city is successful, it will have a new municipal golf facility. If it isn't, it might take the course through its eminent domain powers, and settle in for what likely would be a lengthy court battle.

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