Meadowbrook owner says redevelopment plans are in the works, but club not certain to close this fall

If VanTrust’s development plans for the Meadowbrook property move forward over the next 60 days, the club may be in its final season.

A letter sent from Meadowbrook Country Club owner VanTrust to members in recent days has many speculating that the club is in its final season — though VanTrust officials say there is a possibility the club could be open in 2015 as well.

VanTrust Vice President of Asset Management Jeff Smith said yesterday that the company has been actively exploring redevelopment options for the club’s approximately 63 acres. When the company purchased Meadowbrook in 2010, it committed to keeping the club open and operating as it was for three years. The letter from Smith that arrived in members’ mailboxes notes that commitment has been met and exceeded, and informs members that the company is hoping to have a decision about its next moves for the property by early this fall.

“Everyone knows that we’re a developer and that we’re looking to develop the property,” Smith said. “We want to respect members, and we wanted to let them know where we were and that nothing was happening immediately so they should enjoy the rest of the season.”

Smith suggested that the progress of the plans for redevelopment over the course of the next 60 days will likely determine the company’s decisions about whether to keep the club open for 2015.

“In the next 60 days, if we don’t get down the road further, there’s a good chance it could be open another season,” Smith said. “If we do get things in line, we will move forward. We’re taking this a step at a time.”

Smith said that VanTrust was looking to develop the property itself, and that it was not actively exploring the option of selling the property to the Johnson County Parks & Recreation department or a similar entity. He noted that while portions of the club property many not change drastically, any redevelopment would likely “involve the whole property.”

VanTrust is the real estate development company founded by the Van Tuyl family. Cecil Van Tuyl, the Merriam-based entrepreneur who revolutionized the auto retailing industry, died in 2012 at the age of 85. VanTrust has most of its real estate holdings in the Kansas City area, but also has properties in Arizona, Texas, Ohio and Kentucky. Locally, it has developed the Village at Mission Farms and Park Place in Leawood, and the Highlands Lodge Apartments at 5000 Indian Creek Parkway in Overland Park.

The Meadowbrook property is currently zoned R-1a. In 2008, the Prairie Village city council approved an application to have the property rezoned as a mixed use district, but that rezoning was contingent on the submission of a final development plan for the property within 18 months of the vote. The development plan was never submitted, and the proposed redevelopment died.