Monday night was a great meeting, with 217 neighbors, city and state officials in attendance! It was a year ago this week the auction signs went up, and now we have some great news to share.
Green Golf Partners, a leading golf course management and development company is currently negotiating a purchase agreement to buy Saddlebrook Golf Course. They are a neighborhood/family oriented company, operating 16 golf courses in Indiana, the Midwest and Florida. And they are excited about bringing Saddlebrook back to what it was when it was a successful, well-kept, reasonably-priced public course.
Once GGP gets a signed purchase agreement, they will begin a due diligence period. They hope to close on the sale in July. Immediate work would begin on the driving range, with the goal of opening it in the summer or fall. Then the work will continue on, with plans to officially re-open the course for play in the spring of 2018.
Our golf course had already been in decline before it went up for auction a year ago. Since then it has continued to decline, and has been vandalized. It is in worse shape now and it will take significant work and money to restore the course back to playing shape. The challenge has been that First Financial Bank has not been willing to negotiate on its asking price to accommodate the nearly 50% additional cost potential buyers have estimated restoration will cost.
Over the past year our committee has explored many alternatives, including talking to different golf course operators, leaving the greenspace as a park, even considering purchasing the courses ourselves, as a neighborhood association. Restoring the land to a successful golf course again is the most appropriate option yet no golf course operator is willing to buy the course without help with the restoration costs.
GGP has presented the most reasonable and SUCCESSFUL option for our community we have found. They estimate it will cost $300,000 to restore the course, including completely reseeding the greens, repairing the clubhouse and buildings, repairing cart paths/bridges as needed, replacing the driving range nets, and repairing the fence, among other projects. GGP has asked our community to support these restoration costs.
This would NOT be a contribution to help buy or operate the course. It would be a one- time investment in the infrastructure to bring back the course. This investment is actually very reasonable, considering that losing the golf course would conservatively cost $5.4 MILLION in lost home values in our neighborhood!
Saddlebrook golf course is important to ALL of us—whether you live on the course or not, live in Saddlebrook or not, play golf or not—we all enjoy the beauty, the wildlife, the walkability of it, the peacefulness, the security, the added value an amenity like this brings to our homes and community. Now, we all need to come together to do our part to ensure Saddlebrook stays a golf course community.
We are forming a Capital Campaign Committee of neighbors to develop and execute a plan for raising the contribution. We are even working on ways to possibly make this a tax-deductible donation for the homeowners. We have 341 homes in Saddlebrook alone, not to mention our other concerned neighbors. To have a successful campaign, our goal is 100% participation. More information will be coming. We need to determine our level of support by the time GGP is completing its due diligence period.
Green Golf Partners is VERY good news! But, it’s important to remember this deal will not close without our support. And if this deal doesn’t close, there are NO more options left other than our land will remain vacant or worse will be sold to a developer.