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Sunday, September 2, 2012

Cliffs puts bankruptcy behind it

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        The Cliffs Communities emerged last week out of bankruptcy with new owners and a cautious optimism about the developments’ ability to crank up the sales machine again. One of the new owners likened The Cliffs to the revival of General Motors.

        The Cliffs’ success, said Steve Carlile, who is a principal of Silver Sun Partners, the new Cliffs’ owners, in a video interview posted at Greenville Online, “is important for the community, for our employees and for jobs.” 

        Of course, The Cliffs’ success is important for its residents and club

"I will take a beating on my membership deposit," one member wrote, but "the best thing I ever did was join The Cliffs.  Our family enjoys it immensely."

members as well. One of those residents wrote to tell us he is optimistic, if a bit philosophical, about the new day at The Cliffs.

        “Hey, I will take a beating on my membership deposit,” he indicated, referencing that the new $50,000 initiation fee is substantially less than what he paid, “but things happen in life. Everything is timing.”  He added that the “best thing I ever did was join the Cliffs.  Our family enjoys it immensely.”

        In developing a new club membership plan that will ensure solvency into the future, Silver Sun required all golf members to kick in a one-time $5,000 “transition fee.” Most members complied, and that positive sign gave Carlile and the other members of the group the confidence to restart the development of the Gary Player golf course at Mountain Park that was stalled when The Cliffs hit the skids financially.


Tiger Woods golf course not likely for some time

        No one is saying when, or if, The Cliffs’ much heralded Tiger Woods golf course at High Carolina might be built; some initial landscaping was done before construction was totally stopped, a condition insisted upon by club members who loaned Cliffs Founder Jim Anthony $64 million to prop up his string of upscale golf communities. That investment only forestalled bankruptcy for a little over a year, but it does indicate the base of support for the communities’ survival among Cliffs residents. Anthony ran into trouble when property sales dried up in the wake of the 2008 market collapse and he could not pay for the high-class amenities underway in his multiple Carolinas communities. The coup de grace, many believe, was the ill-fated decision to hire Tiger Woods to design a golf course at the High Carolina community. Weeks after The Cliffs began a massive ad campaign to promote Woods’ involvement, the star drove his SUV into a tree on Thanksgiving night. You know the rest of that story.


Founder Jim Anthony off stage?

        Anthony, who was just off camera during the videotaped interview with the Greenvile newspaper, received some faint praise from Steve Carlile who, with his wife Penny, own property at High Carolina.

        “We appreciate Jim for stepping away [from the operations of The Cliffs],” said the politic Mr. Carlile, who also likened The Cliffs’ predicament to that of General Motors.

        “Think about GM,” he said during the interview. “I wasn’t expecting…that wonderful turnaround,” citing that the car company is “making money,” producing “lots of jobs,” and generally “doing good things.”  He added, “We don’t have quite the hill to climb” that GM did.

        For a selection of Cliffs golf homes for sale in the Greenville area, please visit our companion web site, GolfHomesListed.

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Larry Gavrich

This blog was conceived and is published by me, Larry Gavrich, a former corporate communications executive who founded HomeOnTheCourse, LLC, in 2005.  Our firm advises baby boomers and others seeking a lifestyle in which golf is a major component.  My wife Connie and I own a home in Connecticut (not on a golf course) and a condo at Pawleys Plantation in Pawleys Island, SC, on a Jack Nicklaus layout.  We began our search for our home on the course more than 15 years ago, and the challenges of the search inspired me to research golf communities and write objective reviews of them.