Austin, Texas-based Touchstone will receive $8,000 a month to operate the municipal course for the next five years, with an option for an additional five years. Despite Touchstone’s projections of immediate profitablity, the city will front the management company $1.35 million to cover expected operational expenses for the first six months, and also purchase an additional $460,000 in new landscaping equipment.
Officials in Burbank, Calif. are hoping the city’s latest investment in the DeBell Golf Club will be its last, the Los Angeles Times reported. The Burbank City Council voted unanimously on December 18 to have Touchstone Golf be the new operator of the par-71 course and clubhouse, which has been struggling financially the past few years, the Times reported.
Council members had discussed awarding Touchstone a contract to become the new operator of DeBell during a meeting on November 27, the Times reported, but decided to hold off on making a decision until Touchstone officials could provide additional details about the management firm’s five-year financial forecast for the facility.
Touchstone, based in Austin, Texas, will be in charge of the day-to-day operations at DeBell for the next five years and will have an option for an additional five years, the Times reported.
The city will pay Touchstone $8,000 a month to get the golf course back on its feet. Any revenue generated will go back to the city and be used to pay for the deferred maintenance projects around the facility, including replacing the irrigation system and updating the driving range, the Times reported.
The management firm is replacing Scott Scozzola, whose family had operated DeBell since 1971, the Times reported. Scozzola opted to end his contract with the city in March, which obligated the city to hire several operators to oversee various operational components of the facility.
DeBell GC opened in 1958 with a golf course designed by William F. Bell.
Mark Luthman, Touchstone’s President, said the company is projecting annual revenue at the course to be between $2.5 million and $3 million over the next five years, the Times reported. DeBell is projected to generate between $300,000 and $400,000 of profit every year over the next five years, Luthman added.
But even with these promising projects, Burbank will have to provide Touchstone with a financial boost initially, the Times reported. Judie Wilke, the city’s Parks and Recreation Director, said the city will be fronting the management company $1.35 million to cover expected expenses for DeBell’s first six months of operation.
The city will also purchase new landscaping equipment for Touchstone crews to use, which will cost an additional $460,000, the Times reported. Wilke said Touchstone officials are confident they will earn back the operational costs incurred during the first six months.
Though she has express interest in what it would take to convert DeBell into a passive park, Burbank’s Vice Mayor, Sharon Springer, said having a golf course on the property is the right fit, the Times report.
“It’s a big deal to change the use of that golf course,” she said. “I really believe that it’s the highest and best use [of the property]. It’s not time to change the use of that. There’s a very real chance that it’s going to at least break even.”
Councilman Bob Frutos concurred with Springer, adding that a lot of money has been invested into DeBell and that the facility needs to be protected as a recreational asset to the city.