Last we heard, Champ d’Or had been sold to Walters Hospitality, with plans to make it an entertainment venue/private club. Now, trouble is brewing up in Hickory Creek over the new owner’s mighty plans.
Champ d’Or is a magnificent property in Hickory Creek we have written about extensively from its birth to the nine years and eight agents it took to sell the monster mansion. Once listed at $72 million, the 48,000-square-foot estate — yes, 48,000 — was put on the market the minute it was finished. It took years to build. The owners even bought a home across the street to live in while they built it. The various sales and auctions and marketing attempts to get it sold have given us more copy than a real estate blogger could ever dream of.
Cellstar Corp founder Alan H. Goldfield and his wife, Shirley, built Champ d’Or starting in 2000, but never really moved into it. It is modeled after a chateau on the outskirts of Paris, and the two-story women’s closet in the master suite is modeled after the Chanel boutique in Paris.
C’est bon? Mais no.
The “Champ” is now drawing the ire of the many homeowners who live around it. The original estate was on 39 acres, but much of the land was sold off to create housing developments. We hear plans to turn the estate into a private club have now been abandoned. Developers with the new owners, T. Chateau Event Center, LLC, plan to make it into a wedding and event center that has gotten a little steroidal (kind of like the mansion itself) with a hotel or two, restaurant, bar, and spa on the property.
The estate, once the lone structure on a North Texas prairie, is now in the middle of a residential neighborhood, across the street from an attractive community of homes selling in the $500,000 range with a 32-acre equestrian center, and walking paths that lead directly to Lake Dallas. Steeplechase North is to the west of the estate, with a smattering of nice homes in the $300K-ish range. Megatel Homes is one of the builders, if that tells you anything. And the only access to the community, Turbeville Road, is still just a two-lane road off I-35.
So a large part of the town of Hickory Creek’s population, which has grown considerably over the years because of the Champ, is in an uproar.
A town council meeting earlier this week was full of protesters: They don’t want the commercial development in their neighborhood. The developers have so far not met with any residents, but because of the backlash, they will. There are plans to meet on the estate’s parking lot next week.
“The meeting was standing room only,” a resident tells me. “I’d say about a half-dozen people were in the aisle. I’m not sure what the room occupancy is. Nearly everyone in the room was there to either speak to or hear others talk about the development — in particular, the hotel.”
One would think the Champ itself would be big enough to be a hotel, with those six bedrooms with six full baths and the eight powder rooms. The master wing, the Wedgewood Suite, is on the first floor, with living area and fireplace, breakfast bar, luxurious bath, and private laundry room. Another master is on the second floor where you also find another two-bedroom suite, each with en suite baths. There is yet another bedroom compartment on the third floor near the mirrored ballroom. And there are guesthouses.
Stay tuned. We think Champ d’Or epitomizes the House Lust story of the last decade, a tale of how the largess of the uber-wealthy — with bottomless budgets to spend on housing — sometimes go a wee bit overboard, creating white elephants that can only be sold at auction. So what do you do with them when you get them?
A real estate muckraker, Candy Evans is one of the nation’s leading real estate reporters. She is also the North Texas real estate editor for Forbes.com, CultureMap Dallas, Modern Luxury Dallas, & the Katy Trail Weekly. Candy has written for Joel Kotkin’s The New Geography, Inman Real Estate News, plus a host of national sites. Constantly breaking celebrity real estate news, she scooped former president George W. Bush's Dallas home in 2008. She is the founder and publisher of her signature CandysDirt.com, and SecondShelters.com, devoted to the vacation home market. Her verticals have won many awards, including Best Blog by the venerable National Association of Real Estate Editors, one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious journalism associations. Candy holds an active Texas real estate license but does not sell. She is on the Board of Directors of Braemar Hotels & Resorts (BHR).