Ives Hill Country Club was listed for sale Wednesday, with owner P.J. Simao saying he wants to preserve at least a nine-hole course with a clubhouse on Flower Avenue West.
The course is being offered as three separate parcels: a 55-acre parcel that includes the clubhouse, a 16-acre parcel on Weldon Drive and a 63-acre parcel off Ives Street Road in the town of Watertown.
Mr. Simao said it is his intention to restrict the sale of the clubhouse to a buyer who agrees to continue to maintain the property as a golf course. Ives Hill operated as a nine-hole course from its founding in the late 1800s until it was expanded to 18 holes in the 1970s. The remaining acreage will be marketed for development.
I have put a lot of careful thought into this and Im never going to be able to keep everyone happy, but I have tried to not change the complexion of the neighborhood over there, Mr. Simao said.
Mr. Simao, through one of his development companies, Prime LLC, purchased the course in 2007 after its previous owner, Ives Hill Land Co., decided to sell to alleviate debts the course incurred. Mr. Simao said he intended to run the course for only two or three years, but as the six-year mark approaches, the course is still operating in the red and its time to move on.
We have great natural resources close by with the lake and the river and it sucks people away in the summertime, he said. Its a highly competitive (golf) market up here, and the highest and best use for the property is not a golf course.
Upon taking over the club, Mr. Simao made improvements to the restaurant and the course, but he has been unable to turn it into a profitable venture.
I am the only individual who has owned the club in its existence and I can unequivocally say that I have made more of an investment personally than anyone has. By a landslide, he said.
The land on the Weldon Drive and Ives Street Road sides of the property is adjacent to the Immaculate Heart Central School and Ives Hill Retirement Community properties. Mr. Simao said the property could be developable as homes, town houses or apartments, each of which would still have a golf course nearby.
My goal is to at least give people the opportunity to preserve the nine-hole golf course and not change the environment, he said.
The property is in foreclosure proceedings, with HSBC Bank USA N.A., Buffalo, claiming it is owed about $490,000 on a mortgage it provided Prime in 2007. Mr. Simao has filed a $20 million counterclaim, contending that the bank knew, but failed to disclose to him, that his other business, DealMaker Auto Group, was in financial trouble at the time the loan was made for the golf course.
The marketing and sale of the golf course has nothing to do with my litigation with HSBC Bank, Mr. Simao said. With or without the sale of the golf course, my litigation with them will continue.
Mr. Simao declined to say what the asking price is for the parcels. Marketing is being handled by Robert C. Nelson, Alexandria Bay, a senior broker with CBRE, Syracuse, who is also marketing the Thousand Islands Country Club on Wellesley Island.
Mr. Simao said that while the marketing of Ives Hill Country Club takes place, it will be business as usual for its restaurant and golf course, with all memberships honored.