While the recent foreclosure of a private golf club in the northwest Valley has given metro Phoenix another public play course, Blackstone Country Club at Vistancia is on track for robust private club membership and real estate growth in 2012.
Blackstone is a 540-acre gated, private golf community within the Vistancia master plan in Peoria featuring an award-winning course designed by Jim Engh, a 30,000-square-foot clubhouse and other upscale amenities, as well as luxury builder homes and custom home sites. The community opened in 2005.
“We anticipate 2012 will be a benchmark for the community,” said John Graham, president of Scottsdale-based Sunbelt Holdings, the developer of Blackstone and Vistancia. A restructured golf membership program, offering equity and non-equity initiation fees ranging from $7,500 to $15,000, generated 30 new members in 2011. Six new social memberships, with an initiation fee of $2,500, were also added. Both programs are on track to further increase membership in 2012.
Driving growth is the expected increase in traffic to Blackstone from new real estate offerings from Shea Homes and Taylor Morrison as well as additional product from T.W. Lewis which are scheduled to debut in Blackstone in the new year. Precise timing of these new plans is still underway, but will make a major impact at Vistancia in 2012, offering prospective owners a broad selection of residential product.
In addition, Meritage Homes will grand open the Aria at Vistancia collection in Vistancia Village, featuring one model and seven floor plans, in January.
“There’s a renewed interest in Vistancia and Blackstone from builders and we’re excited to offer these new home collections in 2012,” Graham said, citing the community’s proximity to the new Happy Valley Road to Interstate 17 segment of the Loop 303, the community’s future as a commercial and employment hub for the northwest Valley, and Sunbelt Holdings’ reputation for creating upscale master planned communities that retain their value as reasons for builder commitment.
Graham acknowledged that for the past five years, the economy has affected the business of golf in many ways—and not just in Arizona. “Private country clubs and golf courses have had to make really tough decisions in order to remain healthy. Some don’t make it,” he added, referring to the foreclosure of the private Quintero Golf Club just west of Lake Pleasant and its recent reopening as a public course.
By restructuring the cost of club memberships and establishing clear lines of communication with the members during the restructuring, Blackstone has generated revenue during the economic downturn thus preserving private play. Today, the membership is a vibrant mix of individuals, young families, empty nesters and retirees who enjoy the private club lifestyle.
Among new members are Texas Rangers pitcher Scott Feldman and fiancée Kelli Northington who recently moved into their home in Blackstone where they will live during the offseason. “Once we decided to move to Arizona, the two places we looked were Blackstone and several neighborhoods in Scottsdale,” explained Northington. “Ultimately we chose Blackstone because it’s a growing area that is going to turn into a great investment one day as well as a great place to have a family.”
She indicated that property prices, the cost of joining the golf club and the community’s proximity to the Surprise Stadium spring training facility swayed their decision. “Blackstone is also Scott’s favorite golf course to play in Arizona,” she said, adding, “In our opinion it is in the best condition of any we’ve seen in Arizona.”
In January, the couple will hold their wedding at Blackstone’s Hacienda Clubhouse. “We love that the wedding is practically right in our backyard. Weddings can be a stressful time, and I think the fact that it’s right down the street definitely alleviates a little of the stress,” Northington pointed out. “More importantly though, we chose Blackstone as our wedding venue because it is a beautiful place to get married.”
New Trilogy at Vistancia residents Mark and Vicki Grindle also are recent Blackstone golf club members following a two-year search for the right club. “Compared to other private clubs in the Valley, Blackstone offers an affordable membership,” explained Mark, adding that he played the course several times prior to becoming a member “and found it be challenging but fair. The golf staff is great and very willing to help.”
Now that he’s a member, Mark is on the course every Saturday. “I like the members and staff—everyone is so friendly and warm. It’s a great experience.”
The recent hirings of new General Manager William Griffon and Executive Chef
Randy Heltsley will also bring a new vitality to the club, said Graham. Griffon brings more than 20 years of private club management and hospitality experience throughout the country to Blackstone. Chef Heltsley has studied under world-renowned chefs in a variety of restaurant settings and has many years of experience in country clubs and resorts from Florida to Arizona.
“We’re definitely entering an exciting time,” said Graham.
For more information on Blackstone real estate call 623-933-6233. For information on golf club and social memberships call 623-707-8700; or visit Facebook or the website at www.blackstonecountryclub.com.