The membership of the Hampshire Country Club has been called to a meeting on Tuesday, May 11 to approve the sale of the 116 acre golf club to NWR Acquisitions, LLC, a private real estate firm, for $12.1 million, according to Stan Brettschneider, chairman of the club’s board. NWR is an affiliate of a larger company – at this point undisclosed – and is being put together expressly for the purchase.
“It is their interest to maintain the property as a private club,” said Mr. Brettschneider. His hope is to close the sale by June 1.
Because of financial difficulties, the club had ceased operating in mid-December and on January 29 listed the property for sale at $14.9 million. Mr. Brettschneider said the club received around 10 serious proposals and inquiries from 50 interest groups. Among those was a bid from Mamaroneck Town and Mamaroneck Village, who were working through the Trust for Public Land.
Mr. Brettschneider explained that his board had a number of criteria for the sale. “Time was a priority, he said.
There has been flooding on the greens and vandalism (in one case a Mamaroneck Town man was found driving a vehicle in circles on the grass) “which is another reason we’ve moved the process along as quickly as possible, “ said Mr. Brettschneider.
Another requirement was having funds sufficient to cover all debt, closing costs, and accounts payable to vendors, club professionals and employees.
“There were pluses and minuses,” to the various bids. “Some had higher prices, but not other essentials,” Mr. Brettschneider said, declining to comment further.
“We believe this is the best possible exit strategy from the country club to the purchaser,” he added. “The plan was to have a sale that would not only meet with our needs as a club but also meet with the interest of the larger community.”
As of Tuesday, May 4, the municipalities had not heard from the club and had not received a response to their bid, according to Mamaroneck Town Administrator Steve Altieri.
Municipal leaders had expressed enthusiasm for purchasing the club for recreational and environmental purposes – although there had been discussion of developing housing on a small portion of the property to help finance the acquisition. A Gazette poll conducted last month had 85% out of 741 respondents favoring a theoretical proposition to approve borrowing up to $10 million to buy the club.
However, a purchase by the municipalities would have taken many months of hearings and, probably, a public referendum to authorize borrowing to finance the deal. There had been rumors of private bidders interested in developing the property for housing or opening the club to the public. Either of these alternatives would have required months of hearings before municipal land use boards and might have met opposition by neighbors in the surrounding community.
In keeping with the club’s bylaws, notice has gone out to members informing them of next Tuesday’s vote, which will be held at the club. Mr. Brettschneider said the notices were mailed to around 140 members.
Asked how he felt about NWR’s proposal, Mr. Brettschneider said, “It comes with mixed emotions – this is not a day we wanted to see happen. It’s hard to see a club that’s been in existence for 65 years come to an end.”
“But we’re happy to see that the future plans will be able to provide a country club under a new ownership,” he said. On a personal note, he added, “How much taller I will be once I get the burden of this sale off my back.”