The announcement last week that the city of Prairie Village had called off negotiations for the potential purchase of the front acres of Homestead County Club prompted a number of questions from readers about the deed restrictions referenced in city administrator Quinn Bennion’s statement on the issue.
We spoke to Bennion Friday to get a better sense of what hurdle the deed restriction posed to the creation of a park on that space. The problem, Bennion said, was language in the 1955 deed that outlined acceptable uses for the Homestead land upon its sale by the J.C. Nichols Company (for $1) to form the club. At issue were two clauses that appear to explicitly forbid the use of the land as a park. Here is the first:
The above described land may be used and occupied only for the purpose of operating thereon a country club with such recreational facilities other than a golf course as are usual incidental to country clubs in the vicinity of Kansas City, Missouri, and for no other purpose or purposes whatsoever.
The deed also includes a provision spelling out acceptable uses for the land when it stopped being used as a country club – explicitly noting that only single family homes would be permitted:
If and when the use of said land as a country club is abandoned…said land shall be used for private residences purposes only, and no flat or apartment house, though intended for residence purposes, may be erected thereon, and any residence erected thereon shall be designed for occupancy by a single family.
Bennion said the city looked into what process would be required to have the deed restrictions amended to make it possible to have a park there, but the answer to that question appeared murky at best. A 1991 document assigned the rights to “modify and enforce” certain deed restrictions enacted by the J.C. Nichols Company to the Homes Associations of Country Club District and its member organizations, 20 subdivisions.
“We’re not sure exactly who has the power to release the deed restriction and what the process to make the change would look like,” Bennion said. “Is it the Homes Associations? Is it the boards of the various subdivisions?”
Bennion said the council decided it couldn’t pursue the purchase of the land with the intent of turning it into a park with such questions unanswerable. He did note, however, that the deed restriction issue wasn’t the only deciding factor for the council.
“A number of council members had a different view,” he said. “For some of them, price was the issue.”
Bennion said that he could envision the council reopening negotiations for the purchase of the space if the deed restriction issue were wholly resolved, but that the timeline looks to be too short to make that a reality. Homestead alerted its members last week that it plans to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection by August 18. That filing, Bennion said, would further complicate the city’s ability to purchase the property.
Asked if the city was considering any other green space purchases at present, Bennion said, “The council is open to pursuing green space purchases that work for the community, and that fit within our Village Vision plan.”
The 1955 deed document is embedded below: