The Tennessee club was placed in a trust after longtime owner Ken Anderson died in 2012. After his wife died in 2018, the Anderson children announced its closing. While the city would like to see the property become a parkland, several real estate developers have expressed interest in acquiring the land to build single-family homes.
With the window to bid on the Germantown Country Club rolling to a close, Germantown residents could soon know what will happen to the shuttered golf course sitting on almost 180 acres of land at the city’s north end, the Memphis Commercial Appeal reported.
C+RB reported on the closing of the club in January 2019.
The deadline to bid on the club was 5 p.m. June 11. Now, the trustee representing the owners will evaluate the bids and contact a pool of finalists about making final offers. Germantown Mayor Mike Palazzolo said he expected to hear from the broker in the next week or two, the Commercial Appeal reported. The mayor said the chance to purchase the land was an important moment for the landlocked community.
“It’s pretty exciting. It’s a huge opportunity,” he said. “When you can find 180 acres to add to create parkland … it makes the community more unique.”
Palazzolo declined to say what the city’s initial offer had been and said because it was not an open auction format, it would be “very difficult to even speculate” how the city’s bid could stack up against any other bidders, the Commercial Appeal reported.
Representatives of Cushman & Wakefield, the commercial real estate brokers representing the property owners, did not respond to a request for comment, so it is unknown exactly how many bids were received, the Commercial Appeal reported. Several real estate developers have expressed interest in acquiring the property to build single-family homes on part or all of the developable land. However, at least one developer has raised concerns about getting into a bidding war with the city over land at a time when development in Germantown has been a divisive and controversial topic.
A group of Germantown Country Club members had initially planned to make an offer on the club to purchase it and keep it as a golf club. However, after the closure of the club was announced, many of the members joined other country clubs in the Memphis area, group member Chuck Kantor said in a text to the Commercial Appeal. Without that anticipated revenue for a future club, the group decided not to make a bid.
That depends largely on who buys it. If a developer buys the property, it is likely they would plan to build single-family homes on the land, which is in line with the current zoning in the area, the Commercial Appeal reported. Palazzolo has repeatedly said he would not support any attempt to change the zoning to allow for multi-family or commercial development.
If the city acquires the property, it could become a public park. A parks and recreation commission subcommittee has discussed multiple park designs ranging from a complex of sports fields to a more natural landscape with walking trails and nature areas, the Commercial Appeal reported. However, any final decision on future land uses would be made by the board of mayor and aldermen.
No matter who purchases the land and what it becomes, significant work would need to be done on the property, the Commercial Appeal reported. A site assessment performed by city staff flagged the drainage system as an area of concern.
“These ditches and culverts have been eroding for the better part of a decade with only a minimum of upkeep and preventative maintenance being applied,” city staff concluded. “The entire drainage system would need to be reviewed and revised if purchased in order to determine sustainable options.”
Also, a large portion of the course is designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency as a flood zone, further complicating and future development efforts, the Commercial Appeal reported. The club’s owners announced at the beginning of the year that the golf club would close at the end of February due to financial reasons.
Longtime owner Ken Anderson died in 2012 and his widow, Mary Anderson, placed the club in a trust before she died in June 2018, the Commercial Appeal reported. The club has been held in that trust since then, and the recommendation to end operations was made by the trustee. In the letter announcing the closure, the Andersons’ children wrote the decision to close the club had been difficult and that they had explored “all possible options to keep the club open.”
Many golf clubs have closed in recent years with fewer people playing the sport and younger people choosing not to join social clubs, the Commercial Appeal reported. While some golf clubs that remain open have been able to make more money—the average revenue generated by golf facilities across the United States grew by almost 3 percent from 2011 to 2016—more than 700 golf facilities closed during that same time period, according to a report on the sport by TEConomy Partners, LLC.
Cushman & Wakefield did not respond to a request for comment about how they will analyze the submitted bids and other next steps in the process, the Commercial Appeal reported. According to Germantown officials, after the bids are reviewed, the brokers will alert the finalists, who will be able to make counter offers on the property. If the city remains in the running, any final offer will have to go before the full board of mayor and aldermen for approval.