Sharp look for Fairview golf club

The fairways have been double mown, the greens are smooth, the new tee and driving range markers are in place, and the clubhouse is getting a fresh coat of paint.

The golfing resort in Sharp Rd just south of Katikati is this weekend being re-branded and re-launched - after first being developed more than a decade ago.

Under its third owner following two receiverships, the golf and residential development has been renamed Fairview from Resort Pacifica, after initially being called Ballantyne Golf and Country Club.

New owner, Auckland-based Fairview Estate is pouring about $4 million through to March into revitalising the golf course and adding a country club. It has also developed plans for a villa development and for marketing the remainder of the subdivision overlooking the striped fairways.

"The fundamentals were there but there was a stigma over it because the previous owners didn't have the resources to maintain the course and clubhouse," property investor and financier Greg Wilkinson, director of Fairview Estate said.

"The investment shows good faith that it can be a premium resort. The most important thing is to get the credibility back and by the end of March there will be a range of facilities catering for the local community," he said.

By that time the Fairview Country Club will be established with two new tennis courts, a petanque court, barbecue area, and health studio within the existing clubhouse.

The clubhouse is being extended with a new 370sq m bar and lounge, which will be available for members.

The greenkeeper's shed in front of the clubhouse is being converted into a golf shop, and new paving and chipseal in the carpark has been laid. The 250m, 12-bay driving range has been tidied up and is open.

The cafe, which re-opened in early September, is in full swing and booked for functions up until Christmas.

Fairview Golf Club (formerly Golf Pacifica), affiliated to New Zealand Golf, has 180 members, as well as green fee players, and the management is aiming to return to the peak of 400 members by the end of March 2013.

Brian Hainge, who started Unique Cars in Katikati 23 years ago and was part of an investor group making a bid for the resort, was appointed Fairview general manager at the end of September last year and has co-ordinated the improvements.

"It's a new chapter for the resort; the investment in the course and the facilities is exciting," he said.

Mr Wilkinson's family trust company, Guardian Asset Securities, was last year owed about $11 million, including interest, after lending previous owner Rocky Cribb a $9 million first mortgage in 2006.

Guardian called up its loan which remained unpaid and placed the resort in receivership in April last year. It first went into receivership in 2001.

The 18-hole championship course, clubhouse and 74 freehold residential sections went to mortgagee sale but Guardian didn't receive a big enough offer, and Mr Wilkinson and his development manager Aran Blackmore took over ownership.

Before that, they negotiated with the receiver of Compass Capital to waive the amount owing. Compass, an offshoot of Bridgecorp, held a second mortgage over the resort.

The previous owners had plans for a retirement village, motel and then a five-star hotel and restaurant, heated swimming pool and spa facility, but Mr Wilkinson is sticking to residential and the country club.

The resort owner has contracted Tauranga-based Generation Homes to develop a cluster of 38 standalone villas in Fairview Park close to the clubhouse and fronting the ninth fairway.

Earthworks have started and Generation will have a show home completed by the end of March 2012, with the roading and other services finished by the end of January.

The villas will be 155-165sq m in size, have three bedrooms and a two-car garage, and will operate under a body corporate.

Sixteen of the medium-sized subdivision sections alongside the eighth fairway will be put on the market at the end of November, and Generation is presently building a spec home for the resort owner to show the design standard.

A total of 76 sections out of the original 150 were previously sold, and so far 20 houses have been built and up to 40 people have moved in.

The new house and land packages will be priced from the early to late $400,000.

Kevin Atkinson, chief executive of Generation Homes, said everything comes down to price and offering.

"With volume-build projects like Fairview, people have the certainty and safety of knowing what they are buying and what will go in around them. They can feel and touch the show home."

He said the new housing demand was now greater than during the property boom.

There is a big shortage in Auckland and in regional pockets.

Mr Atkinson said all Fairview at Katikati needed was the right owner to clean things up. "There has been a lot of talk around the development and now there's some action," he said.

"We are seeing it around the place. A developer with cash either sits on the land or a new owner takes over, re-capitalises the development and it starts up again. The new owner at Katikati has the wherewithal to make it happen," said Mr Atkinson.Graham Skellern is business editor of the Bay of Plenty Times

- Bay of Plenty Times

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