The newest owners of the Tullymore and St. Ives properties near Big Rapids, Michigan made a 10-year plan about 5 years ago that didn’t turn out as rosy as it could have when the economy took a nose dive soon after it was first implemented.
So they had to think fast and reassess. So far the results appear very favorable considering the odds of trying to make sense of the challenging real estate market.
On a recent visit, both golf properties proved to be in excellent condition, plus they offered various real estate options for permanent residents, second home seekers, or those who just want to visit for a few days.
According to CEO Terry Schieber, the original intent was to develop the properties mostly for primary housing instead of secondary, using a plan that worked in California but wasn’t marketing well here in Michigan. Newly-built houses were sitting idle too long. They then launched a new trade in plan that recently sold 18 homes (2 outright, 16 on trade) in a span of eight months, and 14 of the trade ins have been resold.
“We were trying to maximize the money on our houses, so we created a program similar to used car sales,” Schrieber said. “We’d take a house in on trade based on appraisals. If our house appraised at $500,000 and theirs appraised at $400,000 we might give them $400,000 to $425,000 for theirs if they would negotiate, try to keep ours at $500,000, and discount the price on their house in the old neighborhood to try and sell it faster.”
Schrieber said about $30 million of the original $40 million budget to redevelop Tullymore and St. Ives has been spent; $11 million went into the clubhouse at Tullymore.
St. Ives has 125 lots surrounding the Jerry Matthews designed golf course, plus 44 rooms in a hotel-style building erected decades ago; 13 of which have been sold off as fractional condos, the other 31 remain rooms for rent. Tullymore, which has 197 lots, has redirected its plans and has been creating more guest housing such as a well-appointed four-bedroom, 16-person capacity unit I stayed in recently with media from various parts of the country. Most of the newer condo units line the 18th fairway of the Jim Engh design with a newly-opened outdoor pool nearby.
“Primarily we’re a golf resort, but we have more rooms now so we could book more events like weddings to go along with golfing groups,” Schrieber said, adding that in the last three years they have gone from having 36 beds to 260 beds for guest rental availability at Tullymore. Additionally, some home owners want to rent out their permanent homes to large groups as is done in Augusta, Ga. for The Masters.
Schrieber confirmed some interest in my idea that the property should add a wedding chapel to combine with excellent food services to be a one-stop-shop.
“In a development, anything is possible because there is land around us that isn’t that expensive that we could bring into the resort and it would be worth more,” he said. “We’re even thinking about building a par 3 golf course, especially if we picked up another 150 members.”
Speaking of members, last year was the first time in the previous seven that Tullymore’s membership roll grew, albeit modestly.
All-in-all it appears the resort properties are in good shape and not sitting back waiting for the Michigan economy to figure out where it goes next.