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Ask Matt ... what's happened at old Seven Falls clubhouse

Sherri and Rick Holbert bought and renovated the old Seven Falls clubhouse.

Q. What’s happening at the old Seven Falls golf clubhouse on Pleasant Grove Road?

It’s just another home renovation. OK, maybe not that simple. After sitting idle for 14 years, the clubhouse and its 9.8 acres was resold then rezoned from commercial to residential use. New owners Sherri and Rick Holbert acquired the property from BRC Holdings LLC in May of 2022.
“Everything was vandalized. Not a window or door was left when we closed on the property,” said Rick, the former owner of Tire Master in East Flat Rock. “Drywall was pulled from the ceilings and there were snake skins hanging from the rafters.” Photos posted online graphically depict the presale condition, including some signature graffiti by “Toad.”
When the 5,500-square-foot club house was built in 2008, at the onset of the recession, it was to be the home of an Arnold Palmer Golf Academy that would feature a 9-hole par-three practice golf course with a dining room, event space, a covered patio, locker rooms and gym. Palmer visited the property twice, once in June of 2008 to meet with Seven Falls developer Keith Vinson and two months later flying in by helicopter for a groundbreaking gala.
The facility never was officially opened because water service had to be piped under the road from the proposed 900-home development that never came out of the ground. The first phase of the development on 1,400 acres was approved by Henderson County in April of 2007, months before the U.S. banking collapse ushered in the Great Recession. Unable to sell pricy lots, Seven Falls went into default in 2010 and the once handsome clubhouse with its copper roof sat idle for another dozen years. Those years also brought a successful lawsuit by Henderson County to secure $6 million from the developer’s bonding company and a raft of criminal investigations, charges and pleas. On June 2, 2015, five of 11 Seven Falls defendants were sentenced to prison terms. Three weeks later, calling him “the hub of the wheel” of the financial conspiracy, U.S. District Court Judge Martin Reidinger sentenced Vinson to 18 years in federal prison and ordered him to pay $18.4 million in restitution. He remains in the custody of a residential reentry management office based in Butner, N.C., prison records show, for his conviction on charges of conspiracy, bank fraud, wire fraud and money laundering.
The clubhouse tract was once part of a 146-acre tract that hugged the French Broad River. That property was less tainted by the Seven Falls collapse because it had state road access. Conserving Carolina bought the whole tract five years ago, keeping 101 acres, selling 35 acres to a greenhouse company and putting the 10-acre clubhouse parcel on the market. The land conservancy is now restoring its piece to wetlands and floodplain. “When we first looked at the property it was zoned commercial and we thought about putting in an RV park,” said Rick Holbert. Eventually the idea of converting it to residential use seemed more appealing. “The price was $750,000 when we began negotiations,” said Holbert, who had just sold his tire business. “We bought it for $450,000.” But the Holberts had work to do. “We had to rewire the whole house because they stole all the copper wiring,” he said. “We put in new windows and doors, new siding, a drain field, a new HVAC system and replaced some shingles. All we added was a carport.” Natural gas is coming but they still need to have a well drilled. The plan is to move in by the end of spring.
“When it’s finished it will simply be a three-bedroom, three-bath, one-story house,” said Sherri, a broker with Relocate828.
She walked me around the house dodging workers and stacks of drywall. The property has a direct view of Jump off Rock and adjoins the Conserving Carolina land and BrightFarms greenhouse.
“Both are great neighbors and quiet too,” Sherri said. “We want to give the property a name but we don’t want to use Seven Falls — too much bad history.” Maybe they can call it The Phoenix. It clearly has risen from the ashes of one of the county’s most spectacular real estate investment scandals.

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