The purchase of the historic golf course in St. Louis would significantly expand the campus, but the university has given no indication of how the 118 acres will be used, which is proving controversial for residents who want it to remain a golf course.
The University of Missouri-St. Louis may be on the verge of purchasing the nearby historic Normandie Golf Club, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
It’s a move that would likely prove controversial for residents of the village of Bel-Nor who have fought to keep the property in its current state, the Post-Dispatch reported.
UMSL spokesman Bob Samples said the university has been offered an option to buy the golf course, but no decision had been made. “We are currently discussing how to move forward,” he said.
The purchase of the 118-acre golf course—which sits to the southwest of UMSL—would significantly expand the 350-acre campus, the Post-Dispatch reported.
In 1984, the club lost its lease during a dispute with then-property owner W. Harold Emerson and was nearly kicked out of the location. In 2008, Bill Taylor, head of Taylor-Morley Homes, had an option to buy the property. Plans to build homes on the golf course never materialized, however, after Taylor defaulted on a bank loan and ran into legal problems, the Post-Dispatch reported.
In UMSL’s 2013 Master Plan, the university highlighted the golf course as a “potential strategic acquisition.” Bel-Nor village Chairman Kevin Buchek said rumors began taking shape earlier this year about the possibility of UMSL buying the property, but the university denied the rumors and nothing came of it, the Post-Dispatch reported.
When more rumors surfaced in recent months, Buchek said he went back to UMSL’s administrators and was told that the university was looking into it. Buchek and other elected officials have been invited to UMSL for a meeting Saturday to discuss the university’s plan for the surrounding community, the Post-Dispatch reported.
Buchek said he doesn’t know if the golf course will be discussed specifically, but he plans to ask about it, if it’s not. “It’s a historic landmark, it’s a large part of our community,” he said. “My opinion is that I don’t care who owns it as long as Normandie is maintained as a golf course.”
Built in 1901, the course is touted as the oldest public golf course west of the Mississippi River still operating in its original location, the Post-Dispatch reported.
The university found itself at odds with members of the surrounding community earlier this year over plans to demolish the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word convent on UMSL’s property. The university wasn’t prepared to pay the estimated $11 million it would cost to renovate the property, which is adjacent to the Normandie Golf Club, the Post-Dispatch reported.
Community outcry was loud enough, however, that UMSL agreed to seek a private developer willing to renovate the property and operate a business within it as an alternative to bulldozing the convent, the Post-Dispatch reported.
St. Louis County tax records list the property as having an appraised value of $1.2 million, with property taxes set at $30,458 in 2013. The county records list the current owner as “Emerson W. Harold Trustee.” Normandie is considered one of the most treasured amenities in the area, the Post-Dispatch reported.
Bel-Nor resident Dan Riley said he has little faith UMSL will maintain Normandie as a golf course if the land is sold. “I know this community wants to keep this as a golf course,” he said. “It has trees that are hundreds of years old, it really is a visually pleasing, beautiful space.”