Officials in Wichita, Kan. originally thought a deed restriction would require that the property, which was originally owned by the Wichita Country Club, must remain a golf course, but then discovered that agreement appears to have expired. Still, the city’s Park and Recreation Director said he understood that the developer who wants to buy the course “has a lot of interest in golf” and that the purchase proposal includes “actually [using] it as a course.”
As the city of Wichita, Kan. prepares to shut down one golf course, it’s considering a proposal to sell another one to a private owner, reported the Wichita Eagle.
The Eagle reported that the Golf Advisory Committee has scheduled a special meeting where members will discuss a proposal from developer Johnny Stevens, who wants to purchase MacDonald Golf Course, officials confirmed.
Park and Recreation Director Troy Houtman said the proposal is in the early stages — “step one of 25.”
The Eagle reported that Houtman said on August 16th that he thought there was a deed restriction requiring MacDonald to remain a golf course, but he corrected that the next day. A city report evaluating the development potential of the course references a 1948 agreement between the city and the original owner, Wichita Country Club, but then said that agreement appears to have expired.
“It’s my understanding he [Stevens] has a lot of interest in golf so I think [the proposal] is to actually use it as a golf course,” Houtman said.
Stevens is best known for developing the Waterfront, an upscale shopping, dining and office center in Wichita. Stevens was traveling and could not immediately be reached for comment, according to his secretary, reported the Eagle.
The Eagle reported that there’s been a lot of interest in MacDonald Golf Course lately. In April, the city reached an agreement with First Tee, the nonprofit youth golf program, to build a $1.5 million driving range and instruction center at MacDonald.
Under the agreement, First Tee will build the improvements. The city leases the land to First Tee for $1 a month and is responsible for maintenance of the range, reported the Eagle.
The Eagle reported that the offer for MacDonald also comes a month after the city Park Board voted to close Clapp Golf Course in south Wichita, one of five city courses.
Originally slated for a September 30th shutdown, Clapp will remain open until the city and neighbors come up with a master plan for the land sometime next year. Part of Clapp could be sold for commercial or residential development to build new park improvements at the site, reported the Eagle.
City Council member Brandon Johnson, who represents the MacDonald Park area, said the city hadn’t solicited offers for the course, reported the Eagle.
Johnson said his understanding from talking to staff was that Stevens had become aware of the city golf system’s financial struggles and made an offer on the course, reported the Eagle.
The Eagle reported that Alejo Cabral, Johnson’s appointee on the Park Board, said members had been informed that an offer had been made for the golf course, but hadn’t received any detailed proposals.
MacDonald is actually owned by the Park Board, which was an independent elected agency before it was absorbed into city government. The Board has the authority to sell the land, reported the Eagle.
Cabral said the Board would have to follow city bidding procedures if it decides to sell the course. That would include a request for proposals to allow others to make offers for the course and opportunities for the public to be heard, he said, reported the Eagle.
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