The private San Antonio, Texas club has a letter of intent from a developer to buy 13 of the club’s 200 acres, the sale of which would generate more than $9.4 million. The club reported that it has operated at a loss for nine years and has deferred maintenance, so the funds would be used to renovate the golf course and clubhouse.
The historic Oak Hills Country Club in San Antonio, Texas has a letter of intent from a “national high end multifamily residential developer” to purchase 13 of the golf club’s 200 acres, pending a sale to be decided by mail-in ballots from stock-holding members, the San Antonio Express-News reported.
According to a letter sent last week to members, the private club has operated at a loss for nine years and has a lot of deferred maintenance needs. The sale, presumably to allow for condos or luxury apartments, would generate more than $9.4 million, which would be used to renovate the golf course and clubhouse, the Express-News reported.
The proposed sale of the property would require a zoning change and result in demolition of one of the older buildings on the complex, J. Scott O’Brien, club president, wrote in a December 18 letter to voting and nonvoting members. “Honestly, I wish there was a feasible alternative but I don’t see one,” O’Brien wrote.
The sale will allow the club, a frequent site of social, civic and charitable events, to remain privately owned and support “a financial model that will sustain us well beyond our centennial celebration in a few short years,” O’Brien added.
The 13 acres to be sold includes a driving range, six tennis courts, the tennis building, a parking area and a north entrance to the club. More than two-thirds of members who filled out surveys in January said they would favor “selling underutilized assets to fund improvements,” O’Brien wrote.
O’Brien declined to discuss the proposed sale, other than to say he and the club’s board of governors and committees have developed a plan to preserve a golf course with “the best layout in all of South Texas” and other amenities enjoyed by members without raising membership fees, the Express-News reported.
“We just want to do what is in the best interest of the club,” O’Brien said.
Founded in 1922 as the Alamo Country Club, Oaks Hills brands itself as “one of the oldest and most respected private member-owned country clubs” in the nation. The course, designed by famed golf architect A.W. Tillinghast, has hosted dozens of professional championships. Arnold Palmer won the Texas Open there in 1961 and 1962. Golfing greats Hale Irwin, Lee Treviño, Ben Crenshaw and Corey Pavin have won there, the Express-News reported.
But the club now has $3.5 million in debt and believes its current operating model is unsustainable, O’Brien wrote. It plans to use $4.7 million from the land sale to upgrade its golf course with a new irrigation system and renovated tee boxes, fairways, roughs, bunkers, greens and cart paths. An additional $1.2 million would fund a modern practice facility. Six remaining tennis courts would be upgraded, the Express-News reported.
Also planned is a $3.5 million clubhouse renovation that would include demolition of “the old sports building” and construction of new dining and social areas, locker rooms and an exercise facility, leaving a smaller building footprint and “significant reduction” in operating expenses, O’Brien’s letter stated.
City Councilman Ron Nirenberg said his office is checking to see what impact the zoning change, subject to action by the city Zoning Commission and the City Council, would have. He said he was not surprised a multifamily developer would be interested in the property, considering the “tremendous need” for revitalized housing and commercial stock in the Medical Center area. “If it’s good change, that’s what we want,” Nirenberg said.
According to projections, the Medical Center area, which employs more than 55,000 people, could generate an additional 50,000 jobs in the next 30 years, fueling a need for housing and transportation options, Nirenberg said. While the country club is “an institution on the Northwest Side,” the Medical Center is “highly important for San Antonio and the regional economy,” he said.