Borrego Springs Park - Borrego Springs Resort (1963)
Following the success at de Anza, San Diego developer and
builder John Anderson took the next step towards development
of a second golf course resort in the Borrego Valley - the
purchase in April of 1961 of the Ensign Ranch for a reported
4 Initial plans called for development
of a 1,200 acre senior community with a public golf course,
final development would be a total 4,000 home sites.
The Ensign Ranch had been one of Borrego's oldest and best
known landmarks. It was the site of San Diego County's only
commercial date farm.
In March of 1962, the ranch was sold again, this time to
Irvin Kahn and Carlos Tavares who headed up the Borrego
Springs Park Corporation. Many of the original projects
investors were folded into this group of owners. Both Kahn
and Tavares are well known San Diego developers - Tavares
partnered with Lou Burgener in the development of
Clairemont. Kahn was responsible for the development of
University City. Lou Burgener's brother Clair handled both
the sale and purchase. Clair Burgener was active in Borrego
Springs real estate, having at the time one of the largest
real estate offices in the Valley. (Clair Burgener, a
Republican, represented San Diego in Congress from
1972-1982). Lou Burgener was also a member of de Anza
Country Club and had built a home there. The Borrego Sun
reported in April of 1962: "a master land use plan for
development of the acreage is now being drafted by Kenneth
Mitchell of Los Angeles, former head planner or the Los
Angeles FHA office…An 18 hole golf course is being designed
by Billy Bell Jr."
In a front page, July 1963 Borrego Sun article, Henry
Hester and the partnership of Hester and Jones is mentioned
as architects on the first homes and clubhouse. The homes
are modular steel - and built by a subsidiary of the Rohr
"Officers of the company have announced that they
have contracted with Modular Components Inc. of
Riverside, a wholly owned subsidiary of Rohr Aircraft
Corp for delivery of 140 of the company's revolutionary
modular component houses.
Unlike the earlier pre-finished houses the Rohr house is
adaptable to a wide variety of architectural designs.
The homes for Borrego Springs Park have been designed by
Hester, Jones and Associates, AIA, of La Jolla.
Henry Hester, who admits that as an architect he is
not a "fan" of manufactured homes, has nothing but
praise for the Rohr product. He believes it is
especially suited for the desert because of kits heavy
insulation in wall and ceiling panels and the durability
of its color-impregnated exterior.
Design details of the clubhouse to serve the golf
course have been virtually completed by Hester & Jones.
This will be a 10,000 square foot building with dining
room, cocktail bar, lounge, men's and women's locker
rooms, swimming pool and recreational area for
volleyball, shuffleboard, etc.
Also nearing completion is design of a California
mission style entranceway to the project at Titling T
and Borrego Valley Road."
Construction for the first apartment units (now Club Circle)
began in April of 1964. The following month the first family
moved into the area. The clubhouse opened in December of
1964. In January of 1965, Tavares buys out the interests of
Irvin Kahn and construction is set to start on 200 "tri-zone
and duo-zone" units' "The tri-zone and duo-zone units
Stenwick (resident manager of the project) described as
essentially single family dwellings which can be closed off
to make one or two rental units in addition to the owner's
dwelling space…These new units will be built at Rohr
Aircraft's Modular Components division and will be erected
on the site east of the clubhouse."
However in late 1964, early 1965, the financing of the
Borrego Springs Park Development Company unravels. The
County Marshall, in a bankruptcy proceeding, padlocked the
Hester & Jones clubhouse. The golf course and clubhouse
would then sit vacant - for 34 years. In 1991, John & Bill
Cameron (Cameron Brothers Construction Company) purchased
the property and began a $100 million dollar project to
restore the course and clubhouse, to build a new hotel and
develop senior housing. John Cameron says when they bought
the clubhouse "the ceiling was on the floor" and "We redid
the clubhouse just as it was. We liked it when we were here
many years ago (John Cameron was attending a conference of
the San Diego General Contractors Association when the
Marshall padlocked the building) and we didn't want to
modernize it with pink paint".