Charlottesville firm makes play for Chester golf course

The course is located at the end of the 700-home River's Bend neighborhood.

The course is located at the end of the 700-home River’s Bend neighborhood.

A serious suitor has gone public in its bid to buy a dormant local golf course.

Charlottesville developer Justin Beights and his new land conservation firm Renovo on Tuesday announced it has submitted an offer to purchase River’s Bend Golf Club, a long-struggling and now shuttered golf course in Chester.

Beights, a U.Va. grad, said in a press release and phone interview that Renovo recently secured commitments from investors for $3.5 million to acquire properties for conservation. On that list of potential purchases is River’s Bend Golf Club and its 177 acres, about 110 of which are prime riverfront real estate.

“I’ve been studying River’s Bend for quite some time,” said Beights, adding that he’s not the only interested buyer vying for the course. “I’m aware there are others in play. We recently secured funding to pursue deals like this, so we are making a strong run.”

Beights said he has submitted his offer for an undisclosed amount to the entity that owns the loan on the golf course property. That noteholder LLC is controlled by the family of PC Amin, a local hotelier and resident of the River’s Bend subdivision.

Beights said the two sides are still going back and forth and nothing is under contract or ratified.

“We’re getting there,” Beights said.

Amin did not return an email seeking comment on the potential deal. David Martin, a local real estate broker who has helped Amin craft a plan for River’s Bend, said his camp would have more to say at a later date.

Amin was an investor in the golf course and purchased the loan several years ago after the course began to falter. He’s since been weighing what to do with the overgrown course, which shut down for play earlier this year. Plans on the table have included conservation, development and a combination of the two, as well as potentially keeping parts of the land open as a shortened golf course.

Beights said his model for the future of River’s Bend will not include a golf course, but will involve conservation and limited development.

“I love golf, and I hate to see a course in a beautiful setting like that go down,” he said. “But the numbers don’t work to keep a golf course there.”

Beights’ background is in residential lot development. One of his larger projects was Old Trail Village in Charlottesville. That development included the daily fee Old Trail Golf Club, of which Beights said he is still a minority owner.

He formed Renovo about a year ago and recently got the initial funding commitments needed to go after deals. In addition to River’s Bend, Beights said he’s submitted an offer to buy The Royal Virginian Golf Club, an active golf course in Louisa, about halfway between Richmond and Charlottesville.

“Golf courses at this point in time are the last distressed asset out there,” he said. “They offer a lot of different things as far as wetland mitigation banks, nutrient banks and untapped development potential.”

He says he’s worked out a model to generate returns on land conservation deals using a variety of government programs that offer tax credits and deductions from conservation easements, stream restoration, wetland mitigation and nutrient credit creation.

He said Renovo’s initial investors are high net worth individuals from around Virginia, who can use the deductions that would be distributed in conservation deals.

Beights acknowledged that the River’s Bend transaction is not a done deal and there’s no guarantee it will reach the finish line.

BizSense previously reported that the Trust for Public Land, a conservation group out of Washington, D.C., was also interested in making a deal for River’s Bend to maintain the land as a park. There was particular interest in conserving the section of the course that sits along the James River across from Henricus Historical Park.

Beights said the numbers to make his model work will depend on the final price tag.

“It all comes back to getting the right price for the purchase,” he said.

The course is located at the end of the 700-home River's Bend neighborhood.

The course is located at the end of the 700-home River’s Bend neighborhood.

A serious suitor has gone public in its bid to buy a dormant local golf course.

Charlottesville developer Justin Beights and his new land conservation firm Renovo on Tuesday announced it has submitted an offer to purchase River’s Bend Golf Club, a long-struggling and now shuttered golf course in Chester.

Beights, a U.Va. grad, said in a press release and phone interview that Renovo recently secured commitments from investors for $3.5 million to acquire properties for conservation. On that list of potential purchases is River’s Bend Golf Club and its 177 acres, about 110 of which are prime riverfront real estate.

“I’ve been studying River’s Bend for quite some time,” said Beights, adding that he’s not the only interested buyer vying for the course. “I’m aware there are others in play. We recently secured funding to pursue deals like this, so we are making a strong run.”

Beights said he has submitted his offer for an undisclosed amount to the entity that owns the loan on the golf course property. That noteholder LLC is controlled by the family of PC Amin, a local hotelier and resident of the River’s Bend subdivision.

Beights said the two sides are still going back and forth and nothing is under contract or ratified.

“We’re getting there,” Beights said.

Amin did not return an email seeking comment on the potential deal. David Martin, a local real estate broker who has helped Amin craft a plan for River’s Bend, said his camp would have more to say at a later date.

Amin was an investor in the golf course and purchased the loan several years ago after the course began to falter. He’s since been weighing what to do with the overgrown course, which shut down for play earlier this year. Plans on the table have included conservation, development and a combination of the two, as well as potentially keeping parts of the land open as a shortened golf course.

Beights said his model for the future of River’s Bend will not include a golf course, but will involve conservation and limited development.

“I love golf, and I hate to see a course in a beautiful setting like that go down,” he said. “But the numbers don’t work to keep a golf course there.”

Beights’ background is in residential lot development. One of his larger projects was Old Trail Village in Charlottesville. That development included the daily fee Old Trail Golf Club, of which Beights said he is still a minority owner.

He formed Renovo about a year ago and recently got the initial funding commitments needed to go after deals. In addition to River’s Bend, Beights said he’s submitted an offer to buy The Royal Virginian Golf Club, an active golf course in Louisa, about halfway between Richmond and Charlottesville.

“Golf courses at this point in time are the last distressed asset out there,” he said. “They offer a lot of different things as far as wetland mitigation banks, nutrient banks and untapped development potential.”

He says he’s worked out a model to generate returns on land conservation deals using a variety of government programs that offer tax credits and deductions from conservation easements, stream restoration, wetland mitigation and nutrient credit creation.

He said Renovo’s initial investors are high net worth individuals from around Virginia, who can use the deductions that would be distributed in conservation deals.

Beights acknowledged that the River’s Bend transaction is not a done deal and there’s no guarantee it will reach the finish line.

BizSense previously reported that the Trust for Public Land, a conservation group out of Washington, D.C., was also interested in making a deal for River’s Bend to maintain the land as a park. There was particular interest in conserving the section of the course that sits along the James River across from Henricus Historical Park.

Beights said the numbers to make his model work will depend on the final price tag.

“It all comes back to getting the right price for the purchase,” he said.

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