Otter Creek sale set to close in September

The sale of Otter Creek Golf Course to Architerra, LLC is nearly complete and has an estimated price of $650,000 to $700,000 — as well as a number of commitments, including a promise to invest at least $5 million into the facility’s capital and maintenance needs.

The Columbus Board of Works has approved a resolution authorizing Mayor Jim Lienhoop to sign a purchase agreement and all other necessary documents for the transaction with Architerra. Bob Haddad Jr., who is chief operating officer at Harrison Lake Country Club, is listed as Architerra’s registered agent.

The final sales price, said Lienhoop, is still to be determined. However, it is expected to be between $650,000 to $700,000.

The city’s current estimates put the price at $681,906. This total is the sum of two pieces: the immediate payoff of certain liabilities and other liabilities that will be assumed by the buyer.

“These amounts and the actual purchase price will change at closing as the loan payoff balances are updated and the final amounts due to vendors and other creditors are determined,” said city officials.

Sept. 6 is the tentative closing date for the deal. However, Lienhoop said this date has been rescheduled in the past and is not set in stone.

“It’s a bittersweet moment,” he said. “When Otter Creek opened in 1964 it represented a truly exceptional asset for our community. It is still a great course today and remains the only Robert Trent Jones design in Indiana. However, there are now numerous, excellent golf courses within an hour’s drive of Columbus.”

“To best manage the city’s commitment to golf in today’s environment, we hoped to find a private sector owner willing to invest in Otter Creek’s future. We believe we found that person and that commitment in Bob Haddad, Jr. We welcome his enthusiasm for Otter Creek and his dedication to golf in Columbus.”

The Otter Creek Management Corp. board recommended in early February that the city consider selling Otter Creek, given the financial requirements of maintaining the venue. A request for proposals was issued in April, and Architerra was the sole respondent.

After a few months of negotiations, parties reached an agreement. Lienhoop said that the management corporation’s board met Monday afternoon and authorized its President, Rich Gold, to sign the sale documents.

According to city officials, both the city of Columbus and the Otter Creek Management Corp. are listed as sellers on the agreement because each entity owns some of the course’s assets. The city owns nearly all of the real estate associated with the course, except about 40 acres. This acreage, along with all equipment used at the course, belongs to the management corporation, which operates the course.

The agreement for Otter Creek’s sale contains several commitments for Architerra. These include:

Paying off certain liabilities of the management corp. at closing (including loans payable to First Financial Bank, the United States Small Business Administration, and the Heritage Fund – The Community Foundation of Bartholomew County)

Assumption of other liabilities such as vendor payables, gift cards, equipment leases, club credits and a loan payable to Cummins, Inc.

Maintaining Otter Creek’s original 18 holes, which were designed by Robert Trent Jones, as “a premium, championship golf course” for 15 years

Investing at least $5 million to address deferred capital and maintenance needs for the clubhouse and golf course

Honoring current membership card holders for the 2022 season

When asked how the sale will affect Otter Creek’s employees, Lienhoop said his expectation is that the staff will be retained and no changes will occur.

“But those decisions are Mr. Haddad’s,” he said.