Prospective buyers of Sundale Country Club recently explored the possibility of developing housing at the site's 18-hole golf course, a move allowed by the property's deed starting in 2022 but opposed by members of the surrounding retirement community of Kern City.

An architect representing four outside investors now in escrow to buy the club made "casual inquiries" with city officials two months ago about potentially building homes at the site. A senior city official said the talks did not result in any formal development proposal.

Randeep Dhillon, who represents a group of investors active in San Jose's technology industry, said Thursday he has recommended the group abandon the idea of developing homes at the site. But he acknowledged the idea might still be on the table.

"You never know what’s going to happen," he said. "I said no. … That was my recommendation to them. I think they took it."

Members of the retirement community's homeowners organization, Kern City Civic Association, are opposed to the idea of developing housing on the golf course, President Jolene Simons said.

"We like the golf course," she said.

The country club's current owners did not return calls requesting comment.

Bakersfield Development Services Director Jacqui Kitchen said the city has not come to any conclusion on whether the property would be appropriate for housing.

"It is premature to tell what the site could accommodate, and if it should" be converted to housing, she said by email. "A lot of factors to consider."

Sundale opened in 1962 as part of then-new Kern City, which has 1,024 residences.

The country club entered foreclosure in June and had been scheduled by its lender to be sold at auction. But according to the company handling the foreclosure, the matter was settled in November without need for an auction.

The country club's formerly full owner, Young Ohr, sold part of his stake June 28. County records show that while Ohr retained 90 percent ownership, Steve Kim now owns 4 percent, Peter Song owns 3 percent and John Park owns 3 percent.

Dhillon said the group he represents approached the club's owners about a potential purchase of the property in early November.

The Kern County Assessor-Recorder's Office has valued the country club at almost $2.9 million.

Golfing has declined in popularity in recent years, and at least two Kern County golf courses have closed within about the last year.

John Cox can be reached at 661-395-7404. Follow him on Twitter: @TheThirdGraf. Sign up at Bakersfield.com for free newsletters about local business.

(6) comments

mrdwm1

Guess one question is will the new homes be required by code to be "senior-only" as is the rest of this area?

rrogers512

Has anyone considered building those two college dorms for CSUB on the site? (kidding - just ironic that we have two such similar issues going on at the same time)

Cookcook

If you love it so much then why isnt the green grass used for children and pets or sports and be volunteers for the safety of them ? Instead of TRYING to use it for your so called image that you think you need?

Gary Crabtree

The golf course was built for one reason, to sell houses. Once the neighborhood was fully developed it became a liability and that's why they sold it for $665,000. The new owners built a clubhouse and restaurant but never made any improvements to the course and sold it to Or for $4M. The course infrastructure has never been updated and it has been allowed to deteriorate to a point that it is the quality of a "daily fee" course. The course is and always will be a loser. The buyers should be allowed to build homes and modify the course to an "executive" style with shorter holes and with home sales they could raise the capital to do a major modification and built a new "state of the art" course. The residents will benefit and as "seniors" have a shorter course of better quality to play.

ddhinds

Well, if Mr. Crabtree thinks more housing crammed into a retirement community is the best use for the course I must disagree with him. A few minor issues would be; more traffic, more than likely higher crime rates, impact on local schools, degrading a retirement community from its original concept of a retirement golf course development to name a few.
Just because the current owner paid too much for the property doesn't mean it gives a new owner the right to start building a bunch of houses in the middle of a retirement community that has established for over 55 years. His suggestion that some sort of " Executive" golf course would work better is hogwash. The new owners know exactly what they are buying and if it is their intent to build housing they had better be ready for a fight from hundreds of residents who will object at such an idea.

Jerry Todd

We've lived in Kern City off and on for years and love it for the setting, proximity to the kids and grandkids and great neighbors and views. Years ago, what was a shopping center with Fry's Market and satellite stores is now the Kern High School District Headquarters. The retirement community concept with a golf course is limited to those residents still fit enough to play regularly. Given the original layout and the features Del Webb offered in his first retirement effort, much get little use. The Library is busy and the Town Hall gets a lot of use, as does the exercise room.

The golf course membership was opened some time ago to outsiders. There is a virtual doubling of membership possible I've been told if and when the current management/ownership changes. It's well-located and affordable to the many pick up truck owners who crowd the parking lot on tournament and other great golf days. Imaginative management with great public relations capabilities would assure the course's future.

There are selected sites I'm sure the architect has studied, like the one bedroom rows with a huge green area north and west of the KHSD headquarters. That and a large area around the current maintenance building could accommodate additional clustered housing without destroying the golf course.

Kern City and its golf course are worth saving. It's development has seen a number of iterations since 1961. All have been improvements in housing quality and style. The clubhouse and restaurant should be an excellent draw with the right menu and management.Good luck to the new owners. Bring your visions with you.

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