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Rountree awarded golf course lease

Planning commissioner Ronnie Rountree was awarded a 20-year lease of the Sleepy Hole Golf Course during the City Council meeting Wednesday.

Rountree’s was the only bid of the three received by the Tuesday deadline that responded with an annual lease amount bid higher than the minimum acceptable bid the council put forth – $350,000. Rountree’s bid was $356,000 per year, in addition to $3.63 million in capital improvements. The annual lease amount, however, will be offset by capital improvements made – for example, if Rountree does $356,000 in capital improvements during the first year of his lease, he will not owe the city any money.

The other two bidders were Nansemond River Golf Course and Professional Property Management, LLC. Nansemond River proposed a lease term of 20 years at $100,000 per year. According to Deputy City Manager Patrick Roberts, the Nansemond River bid did not respond to the portions of the bid requesting details on a pavilion and clubhouse to be constructed on the site.

Professional Property Management proposed an annual lease of $1 for 25 years, and requested a city funding investment of $415,000.

The Obici House and adjoining Carriage House were not included in the request for proposals. Rountree stated during the meeting that he will be more than happy to work with any private groups that want to help restore the homes. See related story.

Several speakers during a public hearing on the lease said that they though the city should be out of the golf business, and two intimated that they thought the deal was already done.

“I don’t know why I’m bothering to talk to you,” said Ryan Pritchard. “You’ve already made your decisions.”

Pritchard did say he was glad the city had decided to leave the Obici House out of the golf course lease.

William Hill asked the city not to act in haste to get rid of the course, predicting that the “drastically oversized buildings” requested would decrease substantially in value by the time they were re-inherited by the city at the end of the 20-year lease.

After the public hearing, a motion by Councilman Charles Parr to award the lease to Rountree drew murmurs from the crowd of about 50 people that showed up to support the salvation of Obici House.

After a pun by Councilman Charles Brown that Rountree’s proposal “won by 10 links,” Council unanimously approved the motion.

Rountree will be required to build a clubhouse, cart storage facility, maintenance facility and outdoor pavilion at the golf course, totaling more than 35,000 square feet. In addition, Rountree will hire people to operate the premises, including a restaurant and pro shop on the property.