RIO RANCHO – It’s taken a long time, amid much speculation, but now it’s official.
Chamisa Hills Golf Course and Country Club has a new owner and a new name: The Club at Rio Rancho.
Businessman Jhett Browne handed over a check for the property on Thursday, closing the deal with seller Harry Apodaca.
“It’s done. I own the thing now,” Browne said.
Browne is a majority stockholder in The Club. Bob Gallagher is the minority stockholder in the venture but will have no role in operations. Browne declined to reveal the purchase price but confirmed that rumors of “around $1 million” were close.
He outlined plans for the facility to a business group in Rio Rancho on Thursday morning. They include renovating the clubhouse to create a 220- to 250-seat fine dining restaurant and a 125-seat sports-themed bar and grill that will be open to the public. There are also plans for a members-only restaurant and cigar bar.
He’s also planning to have the tennis courts resurfaced and offer coaching programs.
The work will start immediately. Browne is aiming to have the amenities open seven days a week in July. He also plans to spend $100,000 between now and October to improve the condition of the course.
Apodaca put the property in south central Rio Rancho on the market last May but got no bidders.
Browne, the owner of the Farmers Market produce stores in Albuquerque, and Rio Rancho businessman Gallagher have been pursuing a deal to purchase the property for several months.
Although the purchase is now complete, the issue of water rates and the fate of the long neglected North Nine section of the 27-hole facility is still unresolved.
Browne has talked to residents living around the North Nine to find a way of bringing in sufficient revenue – possibly through memberships – to cover costs without having to sell the land to a developer.
He is also hoping for an agreement with the city that will allow them to avoid a water rate increase in July.