The History of World Golf Village – Part X – “The Rest of the Story…”

Posted by: Jim Davidson in News

One thing that is true for most start up businesses and real estate projects is that timing is everything. The real estate business is known for it’s cyclical nature and fortunately in the case of WGV, the project actually hit the cycle just about perfect. Don’t get me wrong! With the wildfires just after the Grand Opening, the initial perceived remoteness of the site, and the almost immediate shift of the project residential market from resort/second home to primary housing; we encountered an enormous amount of challenges in the first few years of project sales and operations. Fortunately for the project, each issue was addressed successfully.

Although many obstacles were encountered, the original capital investor faired quite well with the sale of its’ collective interests in the project to a new investor. The sell-out of the project to the new investor occurred in two separate transactions, one in 1998 and one in 2002. The new investor had the desire to maximize the long term value of the project through site specific lot development activities. Over the years the new investor’s strategy transitioned from specific lot development activities to the sale of developed parcels due to increased market demand. Residential home sales activity continued to increase with WGV ranking number two in the MSA for total residential activity. In 2005 WGV finally achieved the number one ranking. Commercial sales, while initially brisk, slowed dramatically because of lackluster demand for WGV as a tourist destination. Unfortunately, while the partners had worked wonderfully together to bring the project to fruition, they could not seem to create a seamless resort experience for the resort guest. Each entity worked somewhat independently of the other as to sales and services. As a result, the concept of a true resort destination did not occur and the hotel became more of a convention based hotel competing in the southeastern marketplace. The results were neither good nor bad just different than originally planned.

With the opening of the ‘King & Bear’ golf course WGV became a true golf paradise. The property owner member had two of the best designed and maintained golf courses to enjoy at their doorstep with very reasonable initiation fees and dues. Support retail services were secured with a Publix anchored retail center.

In 2005 we sold the last large undeveloped tract of residential land in WGV. The tract is immediately south of the King & Bear development area and is planned for 2,278 residential units. Development was started just about the time the real estate market and overall economy slid into a lasting recession. We believe this area will be subject to renewed development activity in the next few years. There is no additional golf planned for this parcel.

In May, 2012 we sold the remaining WGV assets to a local developer and surrendered our development management agreement after over 25 years. Rarely does a development team get to conceptualize, construct and sell-out a project of the scale and magnitude of WGV. We certainly have had the opportunity to work with many creative and talented people over the years.

I would like to mention that none of this would have come to pass without the strength, determination and support of the original investor- Mr.William B. Dunavant, Jr. It is clearly Billy who deserves the credit for making WGV a reality.


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