February 11, 2014 Updated: February 12, 2014 at 6:02 am
The former Appletree Golf Course east of Fountain may one day have renewed life.
The Fountain City Council recently approved an agreement to take control of the course, which has been closed since 2006. City manager Scott Trainor said the agreement is contingent on an assessment that will be completed by the end of 2014.
"We are crossing our fingers and hoping," Trainor said, noting the 156-acre golf course has been deteriorating since the sale and subsequent foreclosure near the end of 2010.
Trainor said the due diligence period during 2014 will allow the city "to determine if it makes sense and if it will support itself."
In the deal with current owner Rialto Capital Advisors, the city would be given the course at no cost and Rialto would throw in another $1 million. Trainor said the money would help cover the assessment and pay for a face-lift for the golf course.
"We look at that course as an amenity for our entire community," Trainor said. "And we really want to do what we can to facilitate its reopening."
According to Trainor, Rialto agreed to the tentative deal, which the city council unanimously approved Jan. 28, wbecause it does not want to be in the golf course business. Rialto owns land near the course, however, and told Fountain officials that revitalizing the course would "be a good value to their business model," Trainor said.
Appletree was owned by Morley Golf prior to its foreclosure. According to a Gazette report, Morley sold it in early 2011 for $1.45 million, less than 9 percent of the $16.9 million he owed on a defaulted loan.
Fountain plans to begin reconstruction of infrastructure and will relandscape the course through 2015. Trainor said "if all stars are in alignment," the golf course could be open by late 2015, but a 2016 reopening would be more realistic.
The plan is to find either a private company or form a metro district near the golf course to manage operations. Trainor said the city would either sell the course or simply hand it over with an agreement that the golf course would remain accessible to the public.
The city manager said he does not yet know what the details of such an agreement would look like, but indicated Fountain would likely include guarantees that the property would remain a golf course and be maintained to certain standards.
"We don't necessarily want to be the course owners or operators," Trainor said. "But there's got to be some sort of skin in the game for the city."