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Monday, April 21, 2014

Public auction planned for municipal golf course

Posted on Aug. 20, 2013 at 1:00 a.m. | Updated on Aug. 20, 2013 at 4:16 p.m.

ELKHART — One year after closing it down, the city of Elkhart will hold a public auction in hopes of selling Sims Oak Hill Golf Course in October.

Members of the board of public works approved tentative plans on Tuesday, Aug. 20, for the auction, a move that comes after bids on the course resulted in one offer that was rejected by the board in July.

Bartel & Company Realtors-Auctioneers of Middlebury was chosen as the auctioneer to oversee the event, which will be at the golf course outside of Middlebury.

The lone bid received in late July was for about $250,000, but officials are optimistic an auction will yield much better results.

The auction comes at a time when land values are reaching new heights in some parts of northern Indiana.

“We’ve seen some record prices this year,” said Brad Hooley, owner of Bartel & Company.

He said a 163-acre farm was sold earlier this year for $11,300 per acre. That was second only to the $11,400 per acre price for 78 acres near New Paris in 2012.

“We feel confident it should sell without a problem,” Hooley said of the 18-hole facility.

The city operated the course for nearly 50 years, but closed it in October 2012 to save money.

At the time, Mayor Dick Moore said the city had depleted a fund used to cover numerous expenses over the years. The decision to close it came when the city was making a wide range of budget cuts.

In the upcoming auction, officials will set a minimum bid at $650,000.

The auction will allow people to bid on the entire golf course or a series of individual tracts.

Bids will be tracked on a computerized scoreboard, he said.

Hooley said the company will be responsible for advertising the event and will market it aggressively.

He said he believes the property could attract people interested in a range of purposes aside from a golf course.

It could be divided for small farms, commercial or residential, among other uses, Hooley said.

According to a letter from the board of works, Hooley was recommended by Steve Eldridge, president of the city’s redevelopment commission.

Board of works members Mike Machlan, city engineer, and Arvis Dawson, the assistant to the mayor, will oversee the project.

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