Members of the American Italian Golf Association decided last weekend to not open the golf course this year at the Dublin, Ohio property, as it will be sold this summer to housing developer Charlie Ruma for $7.2 million.
Riviera Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio will no longer offer golf, as members of the American Italian Golf Association decided last weekend not to open this year because the course likely will be sold this summer to build a new subdivision, the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch reported.
A zoning lawyer told the group more than two years ago, “’You can get this done, but it will be a tough process in Dublin,’” said Jess Oddi Jr., the association’s president. “He said it would take 18 months. So now we’re at 28 months” since members signed the deal to sell to housing developer Charlie Ruma for $7.2 million, the Dispatch reported.
Dublin’s planning and zoning commission held its third hearing on Ruma’s development plan on March 26, about a year after the first hearing. At each, residents from surrounding subdivisions turned out in force with concerns, demands and PowerPoint presentations, the Dispatch reported.
When Ruma presented his third proposal, he had pared the number of homes to 185, from 240. The density went from 1.44 units per acre to 1.22, less than the density at three subdivisions abutting Riviera, and open space increased to 76 acres, from 63, the Dispatch reported.
City planners support the development, if all the conditions are met. Even the neighbors, whose preference still is that Riviera remain green space, supported Ruma’s plan, although their representative suggested a few more conditions at the last hearing, the Dispatch reported.
“This is a tremendous financial burden,” Oddi told the commission members at that hearing. “ Every day, we bleed thousands of dollars.”
Planning Commission Chairwoman Victoria Newell, an architect, told Ruma to come back one more time, with drawings of the homes’ exteriors. The drawings are “the only thing that’s missing from my vote for this project,” she said. Ruma agreed. The commission’s next hearing is on April 9, the Dispatch reported.
Walking the greening course last week with fellow member Joe Gatto II, Oddi said, “None of us wanted this to take place, but it was sell or lose everything we have.”
At the base of some of the trees were stone markers bearing the names of members, many of whom, like Cacchio, had physically built parts of the course. Family members have been taking the markers since the decision to sell the course, the Dispatch reported.
One had rested at the oldest tree on the course, at No. 14, Gatto said. “That was my dad’s favorite hole.”
“Every time you go by there, you’re supposed to take a shot of Crown Royal,” Oddi said.
“I tell you, if they ever drain that lake,” Gatto said, “they’ll find a lot of Crown Royal bottles.”
What began as a reunion for the Italian caddies evolved into the American Italian Golf Association in 1947. The 240 members paid $3 each to join. They opened a clubhouse in 1954 on Wilson Road, which the I-270 extension soon claimed. They bought the Groveport Country Club in the 1960s, sold it and opened Riviera on Avery Road outside the village of Dublin in 1970, the Dispatch reported.
Then the Great Recession of 2008 hit. The Wall Street scandal prompted the Internal Revenue Service to cut some tax deductions for businesses, such as golf outings. Companies no longer paid for memberships, the Dispatch reported.
Riviera was already finding it difficult to compete with the new courses, Oddi said. The market was becoming saturated, and other sports and attractions were drawing kids away from golf, the Dispatch reported.
“It’s an old facility,” Oddi said, walking the halls of the clubhouse. “People liked the new fancy stuff.”
When the bank called in Riviera’s loan a year or two ago, Ruma helped pay off the debt. Oddi said he respects the residents who are passionate about how the housing development will affect their subdivisions, but the association can’t afford to own a park, and “Dublin’s not going to spend $7 million to buy the land,” he said.
The association’s members, who now number 212, will decide whether to buy another golf course or find a clubhouse where they can meet to socialize and hold events, Oddi said. Neither he nor Gatto plans to watch Riviera transformed into a subdivision, the Dispatch reported.
“I’m going to feel terrible,” Gatto said.
But Ruma will build a development worthy of the name, Oddi said. “It will be done right, with respect and nothing but the best.”
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