Our View: There is no financial reason to wait
The Hudson Golf course situation presents city officials with a knotty problem, but, from a strictly financial point of view, the immediate development of the property is the only good option.
By now we’ve all heard the sad tale of the Hanson Bros. Golf Holdings and the inability to apparently make the golf course turn a profit. We also know about the covenant not to do anything to interfere with the operation of a golf course on the land for 10 years.
When the former shareholders’ organization disbanded, it fell to the City Council to enforce the covenant. We are now about four years into the agreement.
The Hanson family from the Hammond area purchased the golf course from the former club shareholders in 2010. The family closed the golf course at the end of the 2013, after four years of operation, citing financial losses.
Agreement or not, the golf course is now closed. A lot of people are skeptical of the Hanson’s intentions and question whether they ever intended to try and make the golf course profitable. Were they merely purchasing a piece of property that they knew would be a lucrative land acquisition for future development? That is possible.
It appears that the Hanson’s original intention was to attempt to operate a golf course. They invested about $2 million into upgrading the facility. Should the city enforce the 10-year agreement? Those upset with the closing of the course say “yes” -- make them wait it out! Those who are looking at the best financial picture for the city should be thinking “no.”
The development of the property would generate significantly more property tax revenue than the roughly $90,000 a year paid by Hanson Bros.
The potential buyer/developer is Hans Hagen. He said the city would lose millions of dollars in tax revenue by preventing development of the golf course for another six years. His development plan calls for the construction of 220 homes.
A conservative property tax bill might be about $4,000 annually on each home -- or $880,000 per year in tax revenue. Can the city afford to squander that sort of potential income by making the Hansons sit on the property for another five or six years?
Hagen has a good reputation as a developer in the Hudson area. The Stonepine and Red Cedar Canyon subdivisions in the city were developed by him.
As much as it is tempting to make the Hansons squirm, it doesn’t appear to make financial sense for city taxpayers. At this point, it appears the land will eventually be developed -- the question is, when does the city want to start collecting substantial tax revenue?
The common sense answer: the sooner the better.