The recent closure and development of Crooked Tree Golf Course in Mason, Ohio is the latest in a slew of golf properties in the state being transformed into housing as a result of slumping business.
The Crooked Tree Golf Course in Mason, Ohio, which closed in December after years of slumping revenue, is converting its fairways to driveways through the construction of more than 230 upscale homes, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported.
Many properties across the state are transforming golf courses into housing, the Enquirer reported. Last fall, the 125-home Alverta development on the site of the former Western Row Golf Course in Mason began construction.
In February, owners of the Hillview Golf Course in Green Township reached a deal to sell the 101-acre course to a developer interested in building nearly 240 single-family homes starting at $300,000, the Enquirer reported.
That same month, Middletown shed its 43-year-old Weatherwax Golf Course—and the course’s $150,000 annual deficit—to Hamilton auctioneer Myron Bowling for $1.6 million. Bowling intends to operate Weatherwax as a golf course for a year before making a decision on the future of the 124-acre site, the Enquirer reported.
In 2006, Deerfield Township purchased the 100-acre Kingswood Golf Course for $8 million, in part to prevent Mason from annexing the prime piece of real estate. The township operated the struggling golf course for a year before turning it into a public park while officials wait for the right developer, Deerfield Township Trustee Chris Romano said.
“It’s a gem of a property. Every real estate company that sells commercial real estate would love to have it as a listing,” Romano said. “We’ve always identified it as having a really high potential in creating something unique for the town you can’t find anywhere else.”
Crooked Tree owner David Brooks said his 25-year-old Mason course has lost $250,000 a year for the past six years. Brooks said sales of the lots will net his small ownership group more than $25 million while builders are expected to see profits of more than $125 million, the Enquirer reported.
However, the transformation is drawing opposition from some residents upset about the loss of open space in their neighborhoods. About 200 Crooked Tree residents crowded a Mason planning commission meeting May 6 to speak out about the proposed residential development slated in the heart of the 500-home upscale community, the Enquirer reported.
Their concerns included: increased traffic and safety issues; water runoff into Little Muddy Creek; decreased home values; and outrage at the juxtaposition of 70-foot-wide lots backing up against 100-foot-wide lots, the Enquirer reported.
Ben McNary, president of the Fairways of Crooked Tree homeowners association and the owner of a home abutting the golf course, urged city officials not to approve the plan.
“(Homeowners) did pay a premium and rightfully so to buy these homes with a view,” McNary said. “They’ve now been made into the worst view.”
Developers say the planned unit development at Crooked Tree already provides lower-density housing than permitted under Mason’s zoning code; one-third of the property, they argue, will include green space and walking trails, the Enquirer reported.
At the urging of city planners, Brooks said he intends to meet with residents before resubmitting the plans. “It doesn’t matter what the facts are. [Residents are] emotional right now. We’d like them to get their own real estate expert and find out what reality is,” he said.
The owner of Green Township’s Hillview Golf Course said a decade of below-par profits forced him and his siblings to sell the 45-year-old family-owned course. The transaction is expected to close this month, he said.
“The cold hard reality is that the golf market has changed in the past 10 to 12 years. It’s an extremely tough business right now,” Macke said.
Six years ago, Amberley Village officials purchased the former Crest Hills Country Club for $8.75 million after losing a court fight to prevent high-priced residential development on the site. The site now operates as a 133-acre park, the Enquirer reported.
In 2006, the city of Mason bought the Golf Center at Kings Island for $9.3 million to prevent it from being developed into as many as 500 condominiums. The city continues to operate it as a golf course, the Enquirer reported.
“Golf courses have always been really expensive real estate because frankly, the best places to operate golf courses are where there’s lots of people and businesses,” Deerfield Township’s Romano said. “It makes it attractive open space.”