San Juan Oaks Golf Club is changing hands, but the new owner
plans to complete a project that will eventually build 200 homes,
two new golf courses and a hotel
Hollister – Developer Ken Gimelli has bought the 2,000-acre San Juan Oaks Golf Club, bringing the largest development in the San Juan Valley – owned by a Japanese company for about a decade – into local hands.
Gimelli, a Hollister resident, has no plans to change the county-approved project that calls for nearly 200 homes, two new golf courses and a hotel on the property, according to Scott Fuller, San Juan Oaks’ general manager. He also said that Gimelli will not make any changes to San Juan Oak’s staff.
“He is keeping current management and employees in place,” Fuller said.
Gimelli referred questions about the final sale to Fuller, who declined to disclose the amount Gimelli paid.
Fuller said that the golf club is still working on environmental mitigation for the project and he is not sure when construction will begin.
In July, 2004 the San Benito County Board of Supervisors voted to approve San Juan Oak’s plan to sell 186 housing lots around the club’s 18-hole golf course. Also included in the plan is a 200-room hotel, two additional golf courses – another 18-hole private course and a 9-hole course open to the public – and a 60-acre park.
Gimelli is a local developer who also owns a portion of the Hollister Business Park and vineyards in the Hollister area that sell grapes to large-scale wine maker Kendall-Jackson. Early in 2004 he bought the Indian Motorcycle headquarters in Gilroy.
Supervisor Anthony Botelho said he was glad to hear that Gimelli bought the property rather than an out-of-town developer. Though the project will change the complexion of the San Juan Valley, he said he thinks the hotel will attract tourists to the county.
“I think this project has a lot of positives to it, especially the potential for adding to our tourism trade with a hotel,” Botelho said. “I just hope it’s successful and implemented as approved.”
Supervisor Pat Loe, who was on the board that approved the project, said her only concerns about it were increased traffic resulting from the San Juan Oak’s expansion and fire safety. Those concerns were addressed before the plan was approved, Loe said. According to the plan that San Juan Oaks and the county agreed to, the club will fund a new fire station and build a secondary road.
Like Botelho, board chairman Reb Monaco anticipates that the project will pull tourists and tax dollars into the county.
“I think it will be very positive,” he said. “I think it is a well-thought-out project.”
About four months ago Nikko, the Tokyo-based company that has owned San Juan Oaks for the past decade, began selling off its U.S. holdings, according to Fuller. Several entities and individuals were interested in buying the golf club.
“Ken Gimelli came into the process roughly a month and a half ago,” he said.
While Fuller said he has enjoyed working with Nikko, if San Juan Oaks was going to be sold he is glad it was bought by a local person.
“I think Ken is a good owner for the property,” he said. “I’m pleased that a local person is the one who is purchasing the property, and I am pleased he is going to keep the employees in place”
Luke Roney covers politics and the environment for the Free Lance. Reach him at 831-637-5566 ext. 335 or at [email protected]