Windriver taps Chicago-based KemperSports
The Windriver golf course is pictured in a submitted photo.

Josh Flory
A Loudon County resort community has tapped a high-profile management company for its golf course.

Windriver, (formerly Rarity Pointe) the waterfront golf community in Lenoir City, announced this week that it has struck a deal with KemperSports to manage golf operations at its 18-hole course.

The move is a step forward for Windriver, and a sign of the times for the local real estate community. After a rocky stretch in which fledgling luxury communities were battered by the recession and housing downturn, the KemperSports deal indicates that some investors may now be ready to put their capital at risk in advance of a possible rebound.

Windriver was sold at a foreclosure auction in 2012, and local businessman Joe Ayres — president of the entity which acquired it — said the owners are nearing the release of a new master plan for the property, including the introduction of new amenities.

Among other things, he said, the new owners decided “we don’t need to be a retirement community, we need to be an active lifestyle community that appeals to all ages.”

Part of that effort includes refreshing the Bob Cupp-designed golf course and bringing in the Chicago-area management firm.

KemperSports is a well-known name in the industry, with a portfolio that includes the Governors Club in Brentwood and Chambers Bay on Washington’s Puget Sound, a course that will host the 2015 U.S. Open.

At a 2012 auction in front of the Loudon County courthouse, WindRiver Investments LLC submitted a credit bid of $5 million for assets including more than 180 residential lots and the golf course. The entity also submitted a pair of $500,000 credit bids for two lots that include 4,000-square foot homes.

Windriver had previously purchased the project’s debt from SunTrust Bank.

After a deep swoon during the recession, the local real estate market more recently is showing signs of an upswing. According to the Knoxville Area Association of Realtors, sales of MLS-listed homes and condos were up nearly 15 percent in the first quarter of 2013, compared to the same period last year.