With the 50th birthday of Seven Lakes I had the opportunity to interview Mr. Alan Shaw, one of the original developers of Seven Lakes to enlighten residents to a factual version of our history beginning a Five Part Series, “The 50 Year Saga Of Seven Lakes.“
Through extensive interviews with the former President of Longleaf Incorporated and General Partner in Peter V Tufts and Associates, the two original developers of Seven Lakes North, Seven Lakes South, and Seven Lakes West we were able to ascertain the factual history of Seven Lakes.
The series includes the triumphs and tragedies at the commencement through fruition of the initial concept of a “weekend retreat with dirt roads“ to the resort development it has become today fifty years later.
These interviews delve into the positive and negative aspects, “warts and all“ of the factual events of the 50 year history of our community.
Part II, of our investigative five part series on the accurate history of Seven Lakes, Mr. Alan Shaw, concluded with the creation of the what is now known as the Seven Lakes Shopping Center. Part III explores additional historical facts that begin circa 1977 and what has transpired in our community, 45 years after the first construction started beginning with the golf club.
Peter Tufts turned in his final course design for what would be Seven Lakes Golf Club. There was some discussion about the course being called “Tuftstown” which was the name considered when Pinehurst was originally named by Peter Tufts great grandfather James Walker Tufts, the founder of Pinehurst. All parties agreed that Seven Lakes Country Club would better serve marketing purposes.
Initially, the agreement with Peter Tufts was that he would own and operate the golf course. Ultimately, Tufts decided that he did not want that responsibility, so the ownership was retained by the developer, Peter V Tufts and Associates, a limited partnership.
Jim Pate, project engineer and land planner, started evaluating the course layout considering the real estate development options. After Pate complete his initial review, he contacted Alan Shaw and asked Shaw to come to his Sanford office.
Much to the surprise of Shaw, Pate presented a compelling argument as to why the final Tufts plan could not work. The design did not provide the opportunity to develop enough homesites adjacent to fairways. Tufts had designed a course that had fairways adjacent to wetlands and a number of fairways that would be essentially side-by-side. The number of “fairway” lots available simply would not justify the cost of building a golf course.
Shaw was careful to make it clear in our interviews the fact that Tufts was given the entire property to create his design. So, Shaw said he should have been more careful instructing Tufts about the real estate requirements to make the project viable.
Shaw was then faced with the unpleasant task of talking with Tufts. “I was really very pleasantly surprised at how well Pete accepted our findings”.
What happened next is little known. Jim Pate, Peter Tufts, Joe Cline and Alan Shaw spent the next 10 days in Pate’s office re-routing the golf course that was Tuft’s “final” layout. The results of those 10 days were a new routing that was acceptable to Tufts and worked from a real estate development perspective.
While the routing of the course has significant input from others, the construction of the course with greens, tees, bunker shapes and design was Tufts responsibility. Tufts got a huge helping hand from an equipment operator who had worked for Ellis Maples and other golf course contractors. John Williams from the Eagle Springs area had a major impact on the final product. He was an artist on a bulldozer.
July 4, 1976 was opening day and the golf course and was greeted with much acclaim.
Before all the federal and state registration requirements were met for land sales to commence, there was a change in the marketing of real estate in the entire subdivision. In previous articles, the sales contract was discussed. Unfortunately, that relationship could not be continued. A company owned marketing office was established and Jeb Koury was named the sales manager.
It was clear that the scope of marketing area needed to be enlarged. The marketing direction under the leadership of Jeb Koury was instrumental in the Seven Lakes community becoming a place to live and raise families as well as a place for second homes and retirement homes. His marketing efforts attracted future property owners from the Northeast and States east of the Mississippi.
Marketing sought to have North Carolina road signs in the area to include directions to Seven Lakes. Mary Featherston, who unofficially served as community social director, was responsible for getting that accomplished. She found to have road signs erected, you first had to be on the official state map. She made that happen. Seven Lakes was now on the map!
And then came Jimmy Carter, 22% interest rates and more long gas lines. Reflecting on those days, Alan Shaw is still amazed that the development was not forced into bankruptcy. As previously noted, the developing companies were poorly capitalized. To get to this point, significant funds were borrowed from a wide range of local lenders. There was no path to meeting the debt obligations on time. Fred Lawrence and Alan Shaw spent much of their time communicating with the lenders and building relationships that resulted in the lenders and creditors working with the developers to avoid bankruptcy.
The late 1970’s saw gradual growth and significant struggles. The Pilot and Ann Cline Norris Bass wrote significantly about Fred Lawrence’s Security and Exchange violations.
As with her reported credentials, Bass was misleading as it relates to the 50-year History of Seven Lakes. The SEC made an inquiry in the late 70’s and ultimately found violations of securities laws. There were no criminal charges brought and there were no fines. There was a cease-and-desist order filed.
The violations were cured by a complete SEC filing that raised additional capital and disclosed past violations. Serious issues that Mr. Lawrence had with the SEC were after he was no longer involved with the Seven Lakes development in management or ownership and should not be included in the 50-year history of Seven lakes.
Next, we explore and examine Seven Lakes West and the importance of a date in February of 1983. Triumph and Tragedy!
To further examine the illustrious 50 year history of Seven Lakes, we will offer an additional 6th part to this series and wish to thank Alan Shaw for agreeing to all of the additional in depth interviews required to offer our readers the concise and factual historical perspective of the formative years.
By: Victoria Levinger Publisher-Seven Lakes News