Developers may scrap plans for Kenwood resort

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Chinese real estate developer Tohigh Investments appears to be walking away from its plan for a high-end resort at the base of Hood Mountain in Kenwood.

Sources close to what was supposed to be the Sonoma Country Inn development said that the 186-acre property is now on the market, although the company’s official real estate and lobbying representatives reached on Monday were unable to confirm its status.

Initial development plans for the former Graywood Ranch property were first approved in 2004, when the parcel was dubbed La Campagna. But the development proposal languished for a decade, due in part, to the economic downturn in 2009.

Tohigh purchased the Kenwood property in 2014 for $41 million from Bob Piccinini, chairman and CEO of Modesto-based Save Mart Supermarkets. Tohigh is a subsidiary of Chinese conglomerate Oceanwide Holdings.

Despite some fierce neighborhood opposition, the Sonoma County Planning Commission voted unanimously in 2017 that the Tohigh project had a vested right to go forward.

In early 2018, Tohigh received final design approval from the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors for a 50-room inn, luxury spa and 125-seat restaurant but work never began on the site.

“Tohigh has had the green light to start for the past year and I wondered why it so quiet,” said Kathy Ponds, who leads the Kenwood-based Valley of the Moon Alliance. The Alliance, which formed in 2002, had opposed the Sonoma Country Inn project from its earliest days.

Several sources suggested that high construction costs and labor shortages resulting from the 2017 wildfires were likely contributing factors.

In addition, the adjacent 31-acre Bela Cavalos equestrian property owned by Charlyn Belluzzo, is for sale. The property, located at 687 Campagna Lane, is listed for $6.5 million.

Belluzzo’s property includes the only two private FAA approved airstrips in Sonoma County, according to listing agent Doug Swanson of Sothebys, as well as a 3,600-square-foot 8-stall horse facility, a 12,320-square-foot covered riding arena, a 1,100-square-foot cottage and a 573-square-foot greenhouse.

Swanson said that if the property is sold, the board of directors of the Bela Cavalos nonprofit hopes to be able to stay on the property. If not, it will relocate.

Tohigh’s spokesperson Rob Muelrath, of the Santa Rosa lobbying and public relations firm Muelrath Public Affairs, had not responded to a request for comment by press time as to Tohigh’s decision to sell. The listing price for the property is not known.

Ponds has around 1,000 names on an email list of concerned neighbors waiting to hear definitive news.

“We are avidly keeping an eye on the project,” she said.

“Maybe it will be good news,” she said. “Who knows, maybe someone will buy it and dedicate the land to open space.”

Email Lorna at lorna.sheridan@sonomanews.com.

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