The sale of Homestead Country Club to Hulsing Hotels, owned by East parent Dennis Hulsing, will be finalized on Monday, October 30. Hulsing plans to remodel Homestead, with hopes of creating an environment that will both attract new members and maintain current ones.
When he last saw the club in 2004, Hulsing had considered Homestead to be one of the best country clubs in the area, in terms of both facilities and membership. On his return, he found that the club has been nearly halved in size, since Homestead sold roughly six acres in 2014 in an effort to combat the shrinking numbers of patrons and lack of market demand.
“I was looking for a country club] for myself — a person who likes to work out and play tennis— and I didn’t quite find what I was looking for,” Hulsing said. “When I had lived here before, 13 years ago, I had belonged to this club and it had a lot more membership and a lot more energy.”
Hulsing is currently planning a ‘facelift’ for the entire club, including new indoor tennis courts, a reconfigured restaurant and lounge area and increased amenities that will be included in the clubs dues. The new amenities, which include group fitness classes, childcare and new spin rooms, will be included in the monthly dues, as opposed to being a separate cost for each individual amenity. This is something new to the Kansas City area country club market, Hulsing says, so he hopes that it will give him an edge over the competition.
“With my vision, and what I created in North Carolina, fitness classes, child care, all of that is part of the dues,” Hulsing said. “So you don’t feel like you are getting nickel and dimed. You know what you’re gonna get.”
Hulsing is making these renovations in hopes that they will attract new members to Homestead. According to junior Homestead lifeguard Molly Kate Ford, the club, especially the pool area, is currently outdated in basic features like diving boards and is lacking in proper cleaning equipment. While working at Homestead, Ford has dealt with chipping paint, uneven concrete and a faulty pool vacuum – all factors that she believes have contributed to the low numbers of patrons at Homestead in recent years.
“I think that one of the main reasons that they didn’t have a lot of members was because of the lack of well kept facilities,” Ford said. “So I think working there will become more enjoyable with the cleaned up areas and a new owner with different plans.”
Junior Gretchen Ternus, who became a member of Homestead in June 2017, has also noticed dwindling numbers of patrons at the club.
“I would go to the pool in the middle of the day and there would be 5 other people there. Or I’d go to the workout room and it would be empty,” Ternus said. “But then I’d go to Milburn Country Club the next day and it would be packed.”
Despite the recent decline of Homestead, member and East parent Judith Deedy believes that Hulsing and his company will increase the overall value of the club through these long term investments and renovations. The first aspect of Homestead that Deedy believes needs renovation is the massive, outdated bubble that sits on top of the tennis courts in the winter. Hulsing is planning to replace this with indoor tennis courts; an option he considers more attractive and convenient– and a change welcomed by Deedy.
“I’m excited that we’ll have someone to do capital investments, and make some improvements that we have needed to get done for a while,” Deedy said. “It will be nice to have someone to stabilize things at the club.”
And that is exactly Hulsing’s plan: to create an environment where family and friends can come together, and to garner excitement for the club that he has spent 13 years away from.
“I want to recreate that same environment, that same energy that Homestead used to have for me,” Hulsing said. “I want to make everybody into family.”