The 101-acre Lakes Golf Course opened in 1977. Presley had not planned a second golf course, and he wanted to develop all but 18 acres of the land that became the Lakes course. However, his drainage engineer Jerry Sudbeck advised him that 18 acres was woefully inadequate for the torrents that come off South Mountain. Presley’s compromise was to build a second golf course: he could charge more for the lots along the golf course to offset the sales of the lost home sites, and the open space could handle some water overflow.
The 101-acre Lakes Golf Course was designed by Gary Panks, ASGCA. It was listed in the Golf Digest as a top executive course in the United States, and was considered by many the top executive course in Arizona. Executive courses are popular among some golfers because they are shorter, less challenging, take less time to play, and generally cost less to play. The course hosted several tournaments.
Presley established the CC&Rs for the Country Club Course and the Lakes Golf Course in 1992 to protect them from land speculators.
Wilson Gee buys courses in 2006
In June 2006, an investor group headed by Wilson Gee, a Los Angeles area financier, acquired the Lakes and the Country Club courses for $5.6 million.
In 2008, Gee announced his intention to build apartments on the course. His plans meet stiff opposition.
Gee closes Lakes course in 2013
In May 2013, Gee closed the Lakes course, claiming financial losses. Pulte Corp., a national home builder, joined with Gee’s group with a plan to build in-fill homes.
Homeowners file lawsuit in 2014
Two homeowners near the Lakes course filed a breach of contract lawsuit in October 2014 against the course owner, citing the owners’ obligation to run the property as a golf course as required by the CC&Rs.
In 2015, Pulte pulls out of the project.
True Life buys Lakes property
In June 2015, Gee’s company agreed to sell the closed and deteriorating Lakes Golf Course to The True Life Corp. for $9 million plus an accrued property tax liability of $1.3 million. True Life put down $750,000 down; the rest was financed by the seller and payable if the project went through.
True Life announces Ahwatukee Farms concept
True Life announced its concept for Ahwatukee Farms in early August 2016. The concept calls for about 300 residences centered on an agriculture theme. Details about the project are sparse.
In 2016, Judge John Hannah affirms that the CC&Rs require that the property must be used as a golf course, as asserted in the homeowner lawsuit.
True Life launches a public relations and marketing campaign to persuade more than 51 percent of homeowners in the benefited area to agree to change the CC&Rs. According to the CC&Rs themselves, the CC&Rs can only be changed by a majority of homeowners in the benefited area.
PR campaign fails; True Life tries the courts
After failing to get enough signatures for a CC&R change, True Life in April 2017 petitioned the court to allow True Life to change the CC&Rs. They claimed a change in material conditions warranted a change to the CC&Rs.
Judge Hannah was expected to rule in June 2017 how True Life could comply with his order that the property can only be used as a golf course, but the order is not delivered because of the new court case.
A trial is held before Judge Hannah in October 2017 whether a change in "material conditions" warranted a change in the CC&Rs.
Judge rejects attempt to change CC&Rs
Judge Hannah rejected True Life's request to change the CC&Rs in a decision released Jan. 2, 2018.
On May 31, 2018 Judge Hannah ordered True Life to restore the golf course in order to comply with the CC&Rs. The CC&Rs require that the course be used as a golf course.
True Life fails to make the principal payment in summer of 2018. Its purchase agreement with Gee allowed it to forfeit its down payment and walk away from the project.
After a trustee sale, the property reverted to Gee and his investor group.
Developers ask Appeals Court to review case
Wilson Gee and True Life appeal the case to the Arizona Appeals Court.
Both sides have filed their legal briefs and are seeking oral arguments.