|By Macario Juarez Jr., The Denver Post|
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Sep. 21, 2004 -Pro golfer Greg Norman purchased the exclusive Seven Lakes Lodge near Meeker and an adjacent 3,000-acre ranch from renowned Wall Street financier Henry Kravis in what could be the first of several high-profile open-range sales in western Colorado.
"There is a huge demand for ranches there, and we had several ranchers watching this sale," said William Bone, president of The National Auction Group in Alabama.
The company was supposed to hold an auction of the property Thursday, but Norman made an offer that Kravis accepted Monday.
A confidentiality agreement prohibited either party from disclosing the purchase price, and the Rio Blanco County recorder's office did not receive documentation of the sale before its office closed Monday.
But the 11-bedroom lodge, which sits on 300 acres, was listed for sale earlier this year -- along with the neighboring Pollard Ranch -- for $18.5 million.
Australian native Norman, whose primary residence is in Florida, has no immediate plans for the properties, except for entertaining family and friends.
"I have admired the properties since I first visited the lodge several years ago," Norman said in a statement.
In his career, Norman has won 86 international golf titles, including 20 U.S. PGA Tour titles, and he has been ranked No. 1 in the world at various points between 1986 and 1998. He also designed the Red Sky Ranch, an 18-hole private championship course in Vail that opened in June 2003.
Norman's new properties are within the borders of the 2-million-acre White River National Forest. The Pollard Ranch backs up to the Oak Ridge Wildlife area, which sits adjacent to the 235,230-acre Flat Top Wilderness area.
Pollard Ranch is adjacent to an 8,200-acre ranch Norman has owned for seven years. Monday's purchase makes him the owner of one of the premier contiguous ranches with water in Colorado.
Kravis, a senior partner at corporate buyout firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., bought the property in the early 1990s. At the time, it was a sleepy dude ranch just north of the Colorado River.
His intent was to create a lavish retreat for his corporate clientele. Vail architect Gordon Pierce designed the main residence and executive cabin on nearby Cabin Lake.
"This is one of the most spectacular and significant properties that we have ever sold," Bone said.
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