Excess golf course land could be sold

  • Article by: LAURIE BLAKE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 7, 2012 - 10:03 PM

To retire golf course debt, Inver Grove Heights is preparing to sell unneeded land near the course for future development.

Some choice land with a view of the Inver Grove Heights municipal golf course is likely to be sold by the city to retire the golf course debt.

But when the land may go on the market and whether it will be aimed for housing or commercial development have not yet been discussed.

In a maneuver that would move city money from one pot to another, the City Council is getting ready to sell about 15 acres of excess golf course land to the Inver Grove Heights Economic Development Authority, which is made up of members of the City Council.

The sale of the land to the economic development agency will make the city enough money to pay off the remaining $1.2 million debt on the Inver Wood Golf Course, community development director Tom Link said.

The Development Authority is scheduled to decide on the purchase in February, possibly using money from the city's landfill host fund to buy the land. A November 2011 appraisal valued the land at more than $1 million.

Although several of the city's planning commissioners raised concerns about what is prompting the land sale and how the land might be used in the future, the planning board last week ultimately agreed that the transfer of the land from the city to the development board would be consistent with the city's comprehensive plan. Members were assured by Link that they would get a chance to review and sign off on any future plans for the land before the parcels could be sold to private developers.

"I like the idea of getting rid of some of this land,'' planning commissioner Paul Hark said. "I think the city is starting to point this golf course in the right direction. It's an underperforming asset.''

Paying off the golf course is a smart move, Hark said. "It's going to unburden the city from the debt that it has, and as a taxpayer that makes me happy.''

The excess land is in two parcels: about four acres across 70th Street from the northwest corner of Inver Wood Golf Course at 70th Street and Babcock Trail, and about 11 acres on the south side of 70th Street west of the golf course parking lot.

The two parcels were part of a 280-acre farm the city purchased around 1990 for the municipal golf course. The golf course has been open for 20 years, and the land was never used and is no longer needed, Link said.

The 11-acre parcel west of the golf course parking lot was the site of the old farmhouse and farm buildings where the farm owner lived, golf course manager Al McMurchie said. "There was really never a plan for that land,'' McMurchie said. "There is no golf course business use for the land.''

With a view of the golf course, both locations are "certainly prime land for development,'' McMurchie said.

The land is now designated as public park and open space. The city would plan to extend water and sewer service to the two parcels to make them more saleable and attract higher quality development, as well as to benefit the environment, Link said.

Although the conveyance of the property from the city to the Development Authority is likely to occur shortly, there has been no discussion about when the development agency would sell it, Link said.

"The golf course is an amenity, and whatever happens to the property, we would try to capitalize on that amenity," Link said.

Laurie Blake • 952-746-3287

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