Monday, 15 July 2024

Hoberg's Resort purchased by group of investors

 

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From left, Realtor Bob Willroy hands the keys to Hoberg's Resort in Cobb, Calif., to Daniel Kottke, a member of Cobb Mountain Partners LLC. They're accompanied by Dan Nelson, the resort's manager. The documents for the resort's sale were recorded by the Lake County Recorder's Office on July 23, 2010. Photo by Sandy Hoberg Fox.
 

 

COBB MOUNTAIN, Calif. – One of the county's most famed resort properties has passed into new ownership, with the new owners looking at opportunities to restore it to its former glory.

The sale of Hoberg's Resort, located at 15205 Highway 175 on Cobb Mountain, closed late last month, with the transfer documents recorded by the Lake County Recorder's Office on July 23.

Cobb Mountain Partners LLC, a Delaware corporation with offices in Palo Alto and San Jose, purchased the property from the Maharishi Global Administration Through Natural Law, documents showed. In all, six parcels totaling just over 50 acres were part of the sale.

Real estate listings said the property included a 40,000-square-foot lodge with another 100 buildings and a large swimming pool.

Dan Nelson – who is managing the property for Cobb Mountain Partners LLC, which incorporated July 12 – told Lake County News that the sale was supposed to have closed about nine months ago.

Negotiations had been under way for a while, he said, but finally concluded this summer.

He said he could not disclose terms of the sale, but county documents stated that the seller carried $1.75 million, and the transfer fees for title totaled $2,200. Recorder staff said the fee is determined at a rate of $1.10 per $1,000 of sale cost, for an estimated total price of $2 million.

The property had variously been listed for just over $2.9 million and $3.5 million.

Attempts to contact representatives for Maharishi Global Administration Through Natural Law so far have been unsuccessful.

The past magic of the resort – which marks its 125th anniversary this year – “just really awed the investors and the partners,” Nelson said.

“They just had to have it,” he said.

The new Web site for the resort, http://Hoberg'sclub.com, has stirred a lot of community interest – Nelson said they've already received a couple hundred phone calls at their corporate offices – but he said that the resort hasn't yet undergone any renovations, and that the pictures and plans on the Web site don't represent its actual condition. It's merely a conceptualization launched nine months ago.

“We're not saying it's going to look exactly like that because we don't know for sure at this point in time but it was one of the conceptual ideas,” Nelson said.

The group of investors includes members of the entertainment business. Nelson, who is acting as manager for the group and isn't himself an investor, also works in the entertainment industry and is chief executive officer of Action 3D Entertainment.

He said the investors are considering a wide variety of uses for the property – from housing a movie set to hosting a film festival, as well as creating a resort similar to Hoberg's in its heyday. However, Nelson added there are no specific plans yet.

Whatever the plans turn out to be, Nelson said it will bring a lot of people to Cobb Mountain and Lake County.

“It's an amazing place,” he said of the resort, noting that you can feel the vibe of what it was like 50 years ago.

Nelson said there has been a lot of speculation about who the investors are. While he didn't offer any information, he did provide a picture of the handing over of the resort's keys to Daniel Kottke, one of the group.

Kottke, 56, an inventor and computer engineer, was Apple's first official employee, and he – along with Apple co-founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak – assembled and tested the first Apple 1 computer, according to his biography.

A storied history

Members of the Hoberg family couldn't be reached for comment, but a 2007 book by Donna Hoberg, “Resorts of Lake County,” showed Hoberg's in its early and mid-20th century glory.

The resort had a swimming pool, hotel, airport and an outdoor dance pavilion known as the “Pine Bowl” that drew big band notables such as Tommy Dorsey, Xavier Cugat, Walt Tolleson, Harry James and Freddy Martin, the band of the latter including a young performer named Merv Griffin.

Founded in 1885 by Gustav and Mathilda Hoberg, Hoberg's Resort would attract notables from around the country. Renowned botanist Luther Burbank stayed there, as did Earl Warren in 1946 when he was governor of California, the book recounted.

Hoberg's also reportedly had a sister resort, Hoberg's Desert Resort in Borrego Springs, Calif., which burned in 1958 but later was rebuilt, according to a history of the Southern California resort.

However, financial difficulties eventually ended the Cobb resort's operation, according to Donna Hoberg's book.

For two years after George Hoberg's death in 1970, the family operated it as a boarding school, the book explained.

In January 1974 the family sold it to Maharishi International University, according to county documents.

In the years since the land was recorded under the ownership of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's World Plan Executive Council and, eventually, the Maharishi Global Administration, county records showed. The Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was the founder of the Transcendental Meditation movement.

During the time it was owned by the maharishi's organizations, County Administrative Officer Kelly Cox said it wasn't operated as a public resort, but was used only for the organizations' members.

Nelson said it appears that the resort property wasn't used actively over the past 10 years, with not much work being done on the facilities.

“It's a monumental task to take on the repair and renovation of the place,” he said.

The resort's new owners already are starting to do cleanup and small repairs, Nelson said.

“It will require a tremendous amount of cost and a tremendous amount of work and commitment from everybody to get everything back to where it needs to be, where we can have guests back at the facility,” Nelson said. “It will require an army of people to really bring this place back.”

Resort reopening a promising possibility for the county

Cox, who himself has never been inside Hoberg's facility, is hopeful for what may be ahead for the resort.

“I think it could have a tremendous positive impact on the local economy and the county's revenues,” he said.

Resorts have had an important part in Lake County's history. Beginning in the 19th century they began drawing visitors to the county to enjoy hot springs and mountain air.

The establishments bring in transient occupancy tax – or TOT – for the county, with those funds in turn used for marketing and economic development efforts.

The visitors who come to the resorts also impact other businesses – restaurants, grocery stores and a variety of other merchants, economic studies have shown.

When Konocti Harbor Resort & Spa closed last November, it meant substantial impacts for county businesses and TOT, as well as many lost jobs, as Lake County News has reported.

The country's economic recession also impacted tourism, and a number of county resorts currently are on the market.

Those on the multiple listing service include Cobb facilities Edie's Resort, $875,000, and Pine Grove Resort, $1,295,000; the 10-acre lakeside Ferndale Resort in Kelseyville, listed for $1,495,000; Saratoga Springs in Upper Lake, a 260-acre retreat offered for $2.2 million; and Willow Point in Lakeport, located on the water, with 61 park spaces, priced at $4.95 million.

The notable resort that's missing from the listings is Konocti Harbor, which was to be sold as the result of a federal court case that was settled in 2007.

The US Department of Labor sued the resort's owner, Lakeside Haven, the convalescent trust fund for Local 38 of the United Association of Plumbers, Pipefitters and Journeymen, for having diverted millions of dollars in pension funds to operate the resort, as Lake County News has reported.

The federal court ordered WhiteStar Advisors of Boca Raton, Fla., to act as the independent fiduciary and oversee the resort's sale. WhiteStar Advisors Managing Director James Bishop has not returned phone calls from Lake County News seeking an update on the resort, which also is not listed for sale on the WhiteStar Web site.

Despite the impact of losing Konocti Harbor's TOT, a review of the first quarter TOT for Lake County shows, according to Cox, “We're not doing that bad.”

Cox couldn't go into specifics about what the resorts pay in TOT – that's confidential – but he added that TOT revenues so far this year were “better than what I thought.”

He said Hoberg's is a unique facility that could have a big impact on the county's economy.

“I welcome the opportunity to work with the new owners and help them make it a great success,” he said.

Nelson said more plans for the resort will be forthcoming soon, with updates to be posted on the Web site.

He said community members are invited to send resumes and information about their skills to the group at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

The owners will be hiring “quite a large number” of Lake County residents to help with the resort's transformation over the coming year, he said.

Nelson called the local enthusiasm “wonderful.”

“We're very excited and looking forward to working with the local Lake County citizens,” he said.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

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