North Carolina upscale golf community residents take bailout into their own hands

          Balsam Mountain Preserve, an upscale golf community a half hour from Asheville, NC, seemed to have everything going for it when it opened in 2001.  Its developers, Chaffin & Light, had an excellent reputation for high quality and delivering on promises.  Balsam Mountain is a drop-dead gorgeous, 4,400-acre mountain property, most of it to remain preserved through a land trust.  It is close, but not too close, to everyone's favorite mountain town, Asheville, and even closer to the charming Waynesville.  And the community's Arnold Palmer golf course, though a little over-designed on some holes, features some of the best views from any mountain track I have played.

         It was a surprise, therefore, to learn on October 14 (as I wrote here then) that Chaffin & Light had defaulted in January on their $20 million in loans and was facing foreclosure, and that the golf course had closed, at least temporarily.   Yet some of the community's residents, who had paid $500,000 and more for their lots, decided to dig deep to protect their investments.  According to the Smoky Mountain News, some of them developed plans to pay the developer's note and finance the amenities themselves.  As of last week, they had raised more than $16 million to try to fend off the foreclosure.

         Unlike at some other high-end golf communities that opened just prior to the housing bust, Balsam Mountain Preserve did not attract speculators but rather owners who actually planned to build there.  This explains why the owners seem willing to go all in to preserve The Preserve and their investments.  If their plans work, other such high-end communities on the cusp of foreclosure will have a model to follow.

         You can read the Smoky Mountain News article by clicking here.


Palmer Design built lots of drama into the mountaintop course at Balsam Mountain Preserve (3rd hole shown).  Property owners and developer Chaffin & Light are facing some drama of their own.

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