Details are beginning to dribble out about the new owners of the Hampshire Country Club – NWRA, LLC – and how they intend to operate the club, which straddles residential neighborhoods in Mamaroneck Village and Mamaroneck Town. On June 15, a press release from the broker, CB Richard Ellis (CBRE), announced that the club had been jointly purchased by Westport Capital Partners of Stamford, Connecticut, and New World Realty Advisors, based in Manhattan.
One of the partners at New World Realty Advisors, Daniel Pfeffer, lives in the Town of Mamaroneck, although he has not been a member of the club and said there wasn’t really a connection between his home and the purchase. “We thought it was a great opportunity and we know it’s a great community,” he told the Gazette this week.
Another local tie to the sale was Budd Weisenberg, a Town of Mamaroneck resident and vice president of CBRE’s Westchester office. He and William V. Cuddy, Jr., CBRE executive vice president, handled negotiations on behalf of the club.
The new owners from both the New York and Connecticut realty groups describe themselves as experienced with “distressed” investments. “We have a long track record in turning around distressed assets,” Mr. Pfeffer said. “And we have never failed.”
Asked about the firm’s experience with country clubs, Mr. Pfeffer said one of the partners has owned a golf course. “We believe this is a significant opportunity to make this a successful” club, he said.
The new partners are bringing in new management and have taken responsibility for maintenance and security, which had been noticeably lax in the last few months, something that has not gone unnoticed by enterprising golfers. “If you take a drive past the club, you’ll see it is no longer tall grass and weeds,” said Mr. Pfeffer. He declined to give a specific opening date, but said “it will be fairly soon that golf will return.”
The club’s former members will be invited to rejoin, and new members will be recruited. Prices have yet to be announced, but the owners have said they will be much more affordable and will not require a large entry fee, as was the case under the previous operation.
Asked about plans for housing development at Hampshire, Mr. Pfeffer said a lot of people are speculating, but “at the current time” there are no such plans. “We are going to have a great club,” he said.
He anticipated an announcement soon about a “great food and beverage” group that will be taking over management of the club house. Initially just for members, the restaurant may eventually be open to the public, he said.
The 116-acre property was put up for sale in December, after 65 years as a private golf club, due to financial difficulties. The membership had been dwindling and there were significant bills to be paid for staff, maintenance and debt incurred during extensive renovations in recent years to the 18-hole course, club house, tennis court and pool.
The club rejected a bid proffered jointly by the Village of Mamaroneck and Town of Mamaroneck. The amount of the bid has not been publicized, but the club’s board president, Stan Brettschneider had stressed repeatedly a desire for a speedy sale. This was something the municipalities may have been unable to deliver, given the need for public hearings and the likelihood of a referendum to approve bonding for the purchase.
NWRA, LLC was incorporated in April for purposes of making the purchase, and the new entity was able to move very swiftly. According to the CBRE release, a conditional contract between the parties was signed in April, approved by the Hampshire membership on May 11 and closed on June 7, with a final sale price of $12.1 million.
“This was a very, very fast transaction, said Mr. Pfeffer. “Willing seller, willing buyer.”