Homes could replace former Highland Country Club

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Highland Country Club, a defunct golf course that spans Ross and West View, is being eyed for resurrection as a residential development of some 300 homes.

A real estate partnership has asked the Western District of U.S. Bankruptcy Court to approve a plan that would allow debts to be settled through the sale of the homes, Pittsburgh attorney David K. Rudov said.

The club suspended operations in October 2011 after nine decades in business. Like many private clubs, it was beset with financial woes. But some of its problems stemmed from financial misappropriation, for which one of its owners was criminally convicted.

In late 2009, about 70 equity members -- owners -- sold the 18-hole golf course and club to Jeffrey Cuny and Jeffrey Garbinski, both of Butler County. Mr. Garbinski ultimately was charged with failure to make required disposition of funds -- about $185,000. He pleaded guilty and was put in an intermediate punishment program for 18 months, allowing house arrest.

Meanwhile, the 120-acre club along Highland Avenue was sitting fallow with past-due mortgage and tax payments.

Local real estate developer Dan Caste and Heartland Homes "saw potential," Mr. Rudov said.

So, acting as a partnership known as Limerick Land Partners, they acquired the liabilities of Mr. Cuny and Mr. Garbinski (under the name J&J Holdings) in spring of this year.

On Friday, the partnership filed for bankruptcy, seeking approval of a reorganization plan.

The plan focuses on repaying the claims approved by a federal bankruptcy judge through the development of the old golf course and the sale of the homes that are built on it.

Mr. Rudov said the development would be primarily single-family homes -- perhaps about 250 homes with about 50 townhomes -- and that he hopes the plan will move quickly through the court system so that construction can begin in the spring.

"They see a future here," he said of the new partnership.

If the plan is approved and development begins, Mr. Rudov said he anticipates all allowed claims will be paid off as quickly as homes are built and sold -- perhaps within three to five years.

If plans are approved by the bankruptcy court, they'll require municipal approval as well.

"I think they'll see it as a very positive thing. It'll bolster real estate taxes," Mr. Rudov said.

Municipal officials couldn't be reached for comment.

neigh_north

Karen Kane: kkane@post-gazette.com or 724-772-9180.


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