Detroit may sell its four golf courses

March 20, 2017
By Jack Crittenden
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The City of Detroit hopes to sell its four remaining golf courses, according to the person who oversees recreation for the city.

"It's just not a profitable business to be in,” Charlie Beckham, told the Detroit News. “Bankruptcy has forced us to look at those kinds of activities for the city that are not servicing a large portion of the population.”

A survey found the city would need to invest $5 to $6 million to get all the courses into shape. Last year, the city had sought a 10-year management contract that would have included investment into the courses. But the city council scrapped the deal because it was concerned the vendor, newly formed Motown Golf Management, did not have the experience necessary for a long-term contract. instead, it  renewed a one year lease with Vargo Golf Co.

It is unclear whether the city council will renew a short-term deal again, meaning the courses may not open in April. The city owns Rouge Park,  Chandler Park, Rackham and Palmer Park. All four courses were shuttered for several months last year. 

City revenue last year for the golf courses was about $42,000. That's down from about $104,000 the prior year, and $125,000 in the three fiscal years before that. Beckham said the revenue dropped because a portion went toward settling a $442,000 water bill.

A sale could bring in $1.8 million, and additionalk taxes if one of the courses was developed into housing. Two of the courses have deed restrictions that preclude redevelopment. 

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