NASCAR star selling Missouri Heights ranch |

NASCAR star selling Missouri Heights ranch

John ColsonThe Aspen TimesAspen CO, Colorado

CARBONDALE NASCAR celebrity Jeff Gordon has sold most of nearly 2,000 acres he owned in the high country above Missouri Heights to a development group headed by the man who created the Dallas National Golf Club in Texas a few years ago.And John MacDonald, formerly of the Ernst & Young accounting and consulting firm, said he plans to build much the same kind of project here as he did in Dallas. The course designer is to be golf architect Tom Fazio, who also designed the Dallas National course.The deal has yet to close, said broker Scott Davidson of the Aspen Associates Realty Group.The due diligence work, including applying for development approvals from Garfield County, is in the early stages, and the deal is not expected to be completed until mid-2009, MacDonald predicted. Neither man would disclose the selling price.Gordon, who reportedly bought the land outside of Carbondale in 2006 for $9 million, was not even thinking of selling the land until MacDonald approached him. But over time he became convinced it was the thing to do, according to John Bickford, Gordons stepfather and business manager.I found it by actually driving around and looking for golf property, MacDonald said of the deal, adding with a hearty laugh, It took a while, but I wore him down.Gordon retains a 50-acre parcel of his own, as well as a couple of memberships in the club, MacDonald said.The pastures and rolling hills of the property are some of the most secluded and scenic terrain that remains undeveloped in the valley. The property has only a humble old ranch house and a tiny log cabin, along with a few barns and sheds. There are no opulent displays that would indicate its owned by a popular, multimillionaire race car driver.Gordons parcel overlooks the proposed golf course site but is not near it, MacDonald said, stressing that the 300-acre golf course will not be peppered with homes, as are a number of other golf subdivisions that have sprung up in the Roaring Fork Valley.The land actually is two ranches known formerly as the Gould and Gordon ranches divided by a small parcel of public land that Bickford described as a driveway along which the ranchers would once drive herds of cattle.The parcels comprise some 1,400 acres in what is now called the upper ranch, and for which there currently are no development plans, MacDonald said.The lower ranch, at roughly 500 acres, is to contain the golf course, Gordons 50-acre parcel and what MacDonald called a small number of home sites sized at around 40 acres apiece.Wed like to do as minimal a development as we possibly can, MacDonald said. Im not your typical developer. Im just an avid golfer.Bickford and MacDonald both noted that the property butts up against a neighboring development known as High Aspen Ranch and another called The Ranch at Coulter Creek. He said that some of the homeowners in those subdivisions are likely members of his proposed golf club.MacDonald said he had talked with neighboring ranchers, whom he said are realists and not opposed to his project. He conceded that the ranchers might have preferred the Gordon property be placed under a conservation easement. But, he maintained, his neighbors are appreciative of his goals of keeping residential development to a minimum, using water conservation measures to keep water consumption as low as possible, and planting native grasses and eliminating the typical vast stretches of fairway covered in Kentucky bluegrass.This thing really is all about golf, he said. This is a golf club for people that love golf and love this

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