Urban Dome LLC purchased the Hixson, Tenn. club from Henry Luken III for $1.7 million. The new owners plan to spend as much as $3.5 million “initially” on both the golf course and amenities. “Ponds need to be dredged, bridges need some work and we have some rebunkering to do. Landscaping and more landscaping,” says Jimmy White, president and general partner of Urban Story Ventures.
The sale of Valleybrook Golf & Country Club in Hixson, Tenn. has been finalized. Club + Resort Business first reported on the purchase agreement in March.
Urban Story Ventures announced Urban Dome LLC’s purchase of the club from Henry Luken III for $1.7 million, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported. Urban Dome LLC consists of siblings Priscilla Mitts Dietterich and Byron Mitts’ Rivermont Corp. and Urban Story Ventures, of which Jimmy White is president and general partner.
Luken acquired the 60-year-old course a decade ago, bidding $950,000 at an auction for the 137-acre course, the Times Free Press reported.
C+RB reported in May 2022 that the club was being shopped for $3.4 million.
White told the Times Free Press the new owners plan to spend as much as $3.5 million “initially” on both the golf course and amenities.
“A lot of us remember Valleybrook in its heyday,” he said. “We want to get that feel again.
“A lot of stuff has to happen, but I told Priscilla and Byron that by September 2024, we’ll have something we’ll be proud of,” he said.
White said that, in addition to “TLC” for the golf course, that means an emphasis on what can make Valleybrook a gathering place for Hixson-area families, the Times Free Press reported.
“The golf course is still relevant,” he said. “Ponds need to be dredged, bridges need some work and we have some rebunkering to do. Landscaping and more landscaping. But we wouldn’t put our names on [a course] that wasn’t relevant in the golf community.
“So golf is one aspect,” he added, “but having amenities for kids and families—a pool. Pickleball courts. The restaurant. Those are mission-critical.
“Valleybrook being in a prime suburban location, there are endless opportunities,” White said. “This community is starving for a social aspect that can be at this club.”
Pouring at least $5 million into buying and refurbishing a golf and country club in the current economic climate might give some investors pause, but White said he’s bullish on the Chattanooga area generally, and Hixson in particular, the Times Free Press reported.
“The banking industry is having issues, like it did in 2007 and 2008, but Chattanooga still had growth back then and I think we’re going to see that again,” he said.
Mitts said that, in a Valleybrook-specific context, it might already be happening, the Times Free Press reported. He said that once the club officially changed hands, he heard from “a dozen” friends who wanted to sign on as members.
“There’ve been a lot of people waiting for this to come true,” Mitts said. “Now that it’s a fact, I think we’re going to see an influx of members in the next month or so.”
When it comes to the golf business, Mitts and Dietterich know what they’re talking about, the Times Free Press reported. Mitts said their late father, Russell, leased what was then Rivermont Golf and Country Club in 1953, bought it a decade later and paid it off in 1983.
“We had a big mortgage-burning party,” Mitts recalled.
The Mitts family sold Rivermont, now the site of The Enclave at Riverview, in 1997 for slightly more than $6 million, the Times Free Press reported. But while Byron Mitts and Dietterich had been out of the golf business for more than 25 years, White said they’ve partnered with him in several Chattanooga-area real-estate deals in the past 11 years, including the Dome and James buildings downtown.
White added that the Valleybrook deal wasn’t the first they’ve done with Luken, the Times Free Press reported.
“We’ve bought several assets from Henry,” White said. “We’ve had a great business relationship.”
According to White, Luken first broached the subject of selling Valleybrook at the beginning of 2023, the Times Free Press reported. White said he called Dietterich, president of Rivermont Corp., right away.
“I told her, ‘You may think I’m crazy, but hear me out,’” he said. Dietterich said he didn’t have to sell the deal, the Times Free Press reported.
“It’s funny,” she said. “Jimmy usually scouts, then we meet and I’ll say something like, ‘Well, let’s look at that.’ But when he said ‘Valleybrook,’ I immediately said yes. I’ve never jumped on anything so fast.
“This is a heart thing,” Dietterich said. “I’ve missed [golf] a lot. Friends say I light up when I talk about Rivermont … they can see I love the business I have now, but it’s nothing like the golf business.”
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