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Friday, May 27, 2022

Developer hopes to sell country club to Amenity Authority Committee

Hacienda Hills Country Club

The Developer is hoping to sell a sagging country club to the Amenity Authority Committee.

The potential sale of the Hacienda Hills Country Club restaurant, swimming pool, tennis courts and parking lots is to be examined by the AAC, which represents Villagers living north of County Road 466.

AAC member Don Deakin called the development “quite a surprise.”

This past year, the Hacienda Hills Country Club restaurant was shut down after a health inspector discovered unclean surfaces and roaches. A new manager was brought in to try to right the ship at the restaurant that has been dogged by complaints of poor service and mediocre food.

The pool at Hacienda Hills Country Club was shut down Feb. 23, 2018 after an inspector found problems with the chlorine and pH levels.

The old El Santiago Club restaurant.

The AAC found itself in a similar situation in 2013 when it purchased the old El Santiago Club restaurant from the Developer for $350,000. At the time, Rich Lambrecht was serving on the AAC and expressed skepticism about the purchase.

“We don’t know if it’s full of mold or what condition it is in,” Lambrecht said.

To its horror and after shelling out $350,000, the AAC learned that the El Santiago Club restaurant building was unusable. It was demolished.

Mark Cook Builders handled the demolition of the old El Santiago Club restaurant.
Recreation Director John Rohan outside El Santiago Recreation Center.

There was much debate at the time, as many residents wanted the restaurant to remain as a gathering place. Ultimately, the AAC concluded it was not in the restaurant business and today a gleaming new recreation center stands at that location.

That same year, a pitch was made to the AAC to purchase the Tierra Del Sol Restaurant. The AAC passed on that offer. Later the Studio Theatre at Tierra Del Sol and Tierra Del Sol Bar & Grill took over the old restaurant space. The theater, headed by Whitney Morse, has proven to be a popular draw.

The old Tierra Del Sol Restaurant.

There is no question that the AAC is starved for land. On Wednesday, its members heard from the head of The Villages Lawn Bowls Club. He said the lawn bowlers are “desperate” for a second green. It’s a familiar refrain that the AAC has heard from clubs and organizations in The Villages.

The recent purchase of the former The First Baptist Church in The Villages will be home to the new First Responders Recreation Center in Community Development District 4, an area which has been crying out for more facilities.

District Manager Richard Baier characterized the discussions about a possible purchase of Hacienda Hills Country Club as being in its very early stages.

He called it, “step one of many many steps that will include public input.” 

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