With Rancho Santa Fe Garden Club purchase official, upgrade next step

Earlier this month, the sale of the Rancho Santa Fe Garden Club to Bruce Kleege officially closed. The Rancho Santa Fe resident who owns Kleege Enterprises purchased the club for $2.8 million to help it remain a part of the community landscape and make it an ideal venue for events.

Before purchasing the club, he had never even set foot in the building.

The father of twin 8-year-old boys, William and Robert, who attend R. Roger Rowe School, Kleege and his family have become very involved in the community through sports and activities. When he heard that the club was for sale, it led to a discussion with his wife, Brenda.

“I recognized it as being a really good piece of real estate, first thing, and then I decided maybe I’ll do something more than strictly investment and do something for the community,” Kleege said. “I thought it was a necessary piece of property for Rancho Santa Fe … my social conscience kicked in. I had the means to buy it and preserve it for the community to use for a long time.”

A former professional tennis player, Kleege got into real estate when his playing career ended. He started Kleege Enterprises in 1985, and the company buys all kinds of properties from oil fields to golf courses. He has lived in the Rancho Santa Fe area for many years and moved into the Covenant nine years ago.

To buy the club, Kleege went through a “pretty intense” interview process with the Rancho Santa Fe Garden Club board and his offer was selected as the highest and best. The purchase still had to go to Garden Club members for approval (it received 94 percent of the vote) and also needed approval from the Attorney General of California.

With those last two hurdles cleared, the sale was finally official. The next step will be a clubhouse makeover.

“We’re going to fix the place up. It’s a beautiful location; the building is just fine right now, but it’s just a little dated,” Kleege said.

The lime-green carpets will go in favor of hardwood floors, and paint will be refreshed, as will the ceiling and window treatments.

“We’ll bring it into the character of the community a little more,” Kleege said.

Contractors are submitting bids for the work, and the cosmetic upgrades should be finished in the next 60 days. Within the next month, Kleege is also hoping to have an operator in place to manage the property.

Kleege said his company does not want to manage the property and is looking into an event planning company to help lease it out. He said he has approached the RSF Association about taking it over, and The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe has expressed an interest in managing it.

“This place should be full all of the time,” Kleege said, noting that on weekdays it could be rented out for company events and seminars, and on the weekends it should be full of wedding or birthday parties. “That’s how I see it, marketing it a little better, rehabbing it and keeping it occupied so it’s a profitable venture.”

Kleege said his company has already heard a lot of proposals for classical concerts, plays and other events he thinks the community would enjoy.

“I hope people will utilize it more than they did before. Maybe the perception was that it wasn’t available before. I want to open it up to the children and families as much as possible, because that’s the life of the community right there,” Kleege said.

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