ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Chamisa Hills Golf Course and Country Club has new owners and a new name, The Club at Rio Rancho.
Businessman Jhett Browne handed over a check for the property today, closing the deal with seller Harry Apodaca.
Browne is a majority shareholder in The Club, Bob Gallagher is the minority shareholder in the venture. They have declined to reveal the purchase price but Browne confirmed that rumors that it was “close” to $1 million.
Browne was the featured speaker this morning at business tips group breakfast.
He said he would begin hiring staff and start renovations on the club house facility and golf course this week. He is aiming to have amenities open seven days a week from early July.
The name will change immediately to The Club at Rio Rancho. Renovations include transforming the existing banquet room into a fine dining restaurant with seating capacity for 220 to 250 people that will be called Jhett’s. There will also be a 125-seat sports themed bar and grill restaurant called Triple Play.
Browne is also arranging to hire a company to resurface the tennis courts and plans to offer a “tennis academy” type program.
Browne and Gallagher have been pursuing a deal with Chamisa owner Harry Apodaca since early this year.
Browne has a background in agriculture and owns the Farmers Market businesses in Albuquerque. He has engaged an expert to advise him on how to improve the condition of the course and expects to spend $100,000 on that work between now and October.
He has said he plans to rehabilitate 18 of the facility’s 27 holes. The north nine-hole section of the course hasn’t been irrigated for about a year and would cost too much to bring back, Browne has said.
He is in talks with residents who live around the north nine to find a workable solution that would bring in sufficient revenue to cover his costs without having to sell the land to a developer.
Browne and Gallagher are still hoping for an agreement with the city that will allow them to avoid a water rate hike set to take place in July. Chamisa has been getting recycled water from the city for 47 cents per 1,000 gallons. That is set to jump to $3.28per 1,000 gallons on July 1.
Browne’s long term goal is to find an alternative water source to the recycled city water that he says is full of sodium, chlorides and other substances that damage the grass.
“City water is killing this golf course,” Browne told the group.