Swing and a miss for Holmes Harbor Golf Course sale

A two-week window for prospective buyers to make offers on the Holmes Harbor Golf Course has come and gone without a single bid.

For Holmes Harbor Sewer District commissioners who are trying to shed unwanted ownership of the golf course’s 50 acres of fairways, that they didn’t get even a nibble was disappointing, but not surprising.

“We got no bids, but we didn’t really expect any,” said Commissioner Stan Walker, president of the sewer district’s board.

Other than being approached late last year by an unnamed albeit interested party, Walker said the board has heard barely a whisper of curiosity from potential investors or owners. The only known interest was voiced by Kevin Hanchett of Holmes Harbor, LLC.

Hanchett said this week he and business partner Mike Hooper had considered making an offer to own the entire golf course, but passed due to restrictions placed on the fairways by the district board.

“It just seemed any proposal we’d come up with would be too low for them to accept,” he said.

The sewer district owns the course fairways, irrigation system, retention ponds, infrastructure and related equipment. Hanchett and the LLC own the clubhouse, waterfront property and an over-water dock. The divided ownership has been a reality since 2013 when the sewer district purchased the assets from the LLC for $200,000.

The fairways are the drain fields for the district’s treated effluent, making them an essential component of the utility’s waste water treatment system. Wresting greater control over their maintenance is the primary reason the board bought them two years ago.

But with conflicting interests, it’s been a bumpy road for the two parties. Legal argument over facility use, and the conflict of a public entity holding title to what is essentially a for-profit facility, is why the sewer district commissioners are now seeking to undo their earlier decision to buy the fairways.

Last month, the board put the fairways up for bid with a minimum asking price of $450,000. The land came with heavy restrictions, however, such as a provision that gave the district the authority to maintain the fairways and then bill the new owner for the work. That left a prospective buyer with little guarantee to manage their own costs, Hanchett said.

“In general, it’s a risk factor that was unacceptable,” he said.

While Hanchett was considering making an offer on the fairways, he is simultaneously listing the clubhouse and other assets for sale. The idea is to bring the entire course back under single ownership, which Hanchett and Walker agree would likely be the best thing for everyone involved.

Walker said it’s “conceivable” that the district would reopen the bidding process with a lower minimum offer, but he’s not optimistic it would make a difference. What the board decides remains to be seen, he said.

The board will discuss the matter again Oct. 8.

Walker noted that the golf course remains open for business.