Cullowhee River Club representatives say they are working with individual property owners to get the development back on track.

Initial plans from Georgia-based Newell Land Group called for 281 houses, cabins and condominiums to be constructed over a five-year period along the Tuckaseigee River near Western Carolina University. Promised amenities for the $10 million project included a restaurant and lounge, swimming pool and tennis courts, river pavilion, hiking trials and more.

That was in 2013.

Now, would-be residents describe scenes of abandoned construction sites, half-built homes and unpaved roads. Several lot owners told the Herald last week they are considering legal action after experiencing a series of unexpected cost projections and delays.

The current developer, CRC Management Inc., replaced Newell Land Group this past winter and hired independent auditors to identify what has gone wrong.

“Toward the second half of 2018, Cullowhee River Club’s investors became increasingly concerned about reports of construction delays and apparent cost overruns on a number of residential construction projects within the community,” said Eric Hamilton of CRC Management in a statement to the Herald last week.

“Once CRC Management Inc. took over management from Newell Land Group LLC in December of 2018, a status review of the projects between private residents and their general contractors was undertaken, as well as a review of all current and past general development projects managed by Cullowhee River Club LLC.”

Officials with CRC Management say they have contacted lot owners hamstrung by the development’s construction woes.

“We are working with these lot owners, on an individual basis, to assist in resolving the issues that have been identified,” Hamilton said. “Due to the nature of these discussions, it would be inappropriate to discuss issues specific to any one property owner.”

The company is “continuing to evaluate” how to best prioritize future projects and amenities, Hamilton said. The focus for now is completing current infrastructure projects, he said.

Last week, Cullowhee resident Minnie Spangler told the Herald she’s waiting for her home to be connected to water and sewer, and for the roadway to the house to be paved. After Newell Land Group left Cullowhee River Club, she paid cash to her builder to keep progress moving. Then, in January, she took over the building process herself.

CRC Management on May 17 told Spangler’s attorney, Jeff Goss of the Sylva law firm Ridenour & Goss, that water should be available within the next few weeks. Roadwork, officials with CRC Management said, is scheduled for completion this summer.

“We recognize the frustration of the affected lot owners as well as of the community’s investors brought on by the previous development management company,” Hamilton told the Herald. “CRC Management Inc. is working hard to minimize the impact on all affected.”