Swirling plans for Rio Rancho golf course revival

Steve Chavez

RIO RANCHO — A village center. Brewery. Upscale restaurants. Parks and open space.

These are the ideas floating around in the brain of Steve Chavez, new owner of a former golf course in Rio Rancho, formerly known as Club Rio Rancho Golf Course and County Club.

The 250-acre property, which has undergone several changes over the years — including being set on fire by an arsonist — was recently acquired by Chavez, an Albuquerque entrepreneur and New Mexico native.

The price was not disclosed. And plans for the property, while a hot topic among area residents, have yet to be revealed.

Lately, the golf course has been a desolate lot that’s home to coyotes and rattlesnakes. The golf course’s 49-year-old clubhouse was destroyed by fire on October 4, 2019. Bernalillo resident Juan Romero was arrested in December for committing arson. The value of the loss was estimated at $2.5 million.

But a revival is in preparation. Chavez is a man with a dream, and that includes Rio Rancho.

“The fact that I’m from New Mexico, born and raised in New Mexico and living in New Mexico – I travel a lot and see these cool things that other communities have that Albuquerque and Rio Rancho don’t “, did he declare.

Something, he said, like a village center.

Among the ideas to explore:

• Lots of green spaces

• Parks

• Wine and cocktail bar

• Upscale restaurant

• Places where children can spend time with their parents and grandparents

• an event center in several buildings and space for weddings and events

• Pickleball and chicken

• Assistance to local business owners who wish to establish themselves in this new project

“I want to do something that’s going to be cool. I think we can put something special there, where current and future residents can come in and enjoy it – to elevate it to a cool city. This is where I want to be,” Chavez said.

During his due diligence, he had conversations with Rio Rancho Mayor Gregg Hull and said those discussions inspired him.

“I want to go out there and do something with an administration that really cares about their place,” he said. “They really care.”

Due to the economics of the project, Chavez said there will be residential, but it will have to adapt to the standards of the region and local residents.

“We’ll see what works,” Chavez said.

An example of what could go up is a “brewery like Chicken N Pickle,” he said. “I’m looking at something like this, maybe a water park.”

For an example of what Chavez has accomplished in another area, check out Mesa Del Sol.

It stagnated “for many years and we brought it back to life – a new way of thinking,” Chavez said.

“We listened to the community,” he said. “That’s what we’re doing in Rio Rancho right now.”

In the meantime, Chavez is not sitting still. A study is underway on the best uses of the property that fit the area, and he has already hired an engineering firm and completed an environmental study.

“It won’t be on the back burner,” he said. “I have lots of ideas, but I won’t know until this study is complete. It’s not just a development for me. It’s something that’s going to be a landmark. It’s gonna be special.

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