A plan proposed in a bankruptcy court filing by the owner of River Bend’s Golf Cub in Chester, Va. would donate a conservation easement on the land in exchange for credits, which could have value in excess of $4 million, that could be sold to satisfy creditors.
Ronnie Kelley, the owner of River’s Bend Golf Club in Chester, Va., is seeking to have that property’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy case dismissed, as part of a proposed deal that would allow the 117-acre property to qualify for tax credits and ease the business’s debt load, reported Richmond BizSense.
According to bankruptcy court records, Kelley, who until a recent foreclosure also owned Prince George Golf Club in Disputanta, Va., wants to implement a plan that would allow him, through River’s Bend Golf Course LLC, to own the property as a golf course while donating a conservation easement on the land, Richmond BizSense reported. The property could then be eligible for tax credits that could be sold to get current with the course’s creditors.
“It takes care of all the creditors,” Kelley said. “It will still be used as a golf course—you just can’t develop it.”
River’s Bend has been working with Blue Line Conservation Incentives, a Northern Virginia firm that acts as middleman and market maker to connect property owners with conservation tax credit buyers, Richmond BizSense reported.
A court filing on November 18 stated that the value of potential credits, should the conservation plan go through, could be in excess of $4 million, Richmond BizSense reported.
Jay Norman, president and founder of Blue Line Conservation Incentives, told the publication that the idea is still in its early stages. “At this point, it’s just a concept,” Norman said. “We have at their request put together a conservation finance plan which could, under certain circumstances, allow them to do the things they hope for the property with debt mitigation, etc.”
The question remains whether the bankruptcy court and the course’s creditors—particularly Chesterfield County —would agree with the plan’s potential, Richmond BizSense reported.
River’s Bend was put into Chapter 11 bankruptcy in September to avoid a court-ordered tax auction sought by the county. That followed years of unpaid real estate taxes on the course, Richmond BizSense reported.
The county’s tax lien takes precedence over all other creditors, including the holder of the loan on the property, Amherst Lending LLC, Richmond BizSense reported.
Norman said the county has not agreed to anything regarding the easement plan, Richmond BizSense reported.
Bill Baldwin, an attorney representing Amherst Lending, would not comment on the case to Richmond BizSense.
Hugging the banks of the James River across from the Henricus Island historical site, River’s Bend has much going for it from a conservation standpoint, Norman told Richmond BizSense. “The property that is subject to the bankruptcy has, at least in my opinion, significant conservation value both for scenic open space, historic importance and, of course, environmental importance,” he said.
Kelley’s plan would preserve the property, protecting it in perpetuity from future development. The property’s current zoning could allow for residential development, Richmond BizSense reported.
In its filing, River’s Bend argued that dismissal of its bankruptcy case is warranted, as the financial burden that would be incurred to prepare a formal plan of reorganization doesn’t make economic sense, Richmond BizSense reported.
A judge has not yet ruled on the motion to dismiss the case or whether the conservation plan would be acceptable, Richmond BizSense reported.