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Major Changes Proposed for Killearn Country Club

Posted on October 7, 2014

Major Changes Proposed for Killearn Country Club

The Killearn Homes Association, which represents approximately 3,800 homes  in Killearn Estates in northeast Tallahassee, was told by the owner of the Killearn Country Club tonight at their monthly meeting that a major redevelopment of the golf club must happen for the club to survive.

Barton Tuck, the current owner,  laid out the redevelopment plan and said “if we do nothing, Killearn can’t compete.”

The Killearn Country Club, once a destination for the wealthy and powerful of Tallahassee and home to a PGA stop for approximately 20 years, has fallen on hard times.

Mr. Tuck said that the club needs a $4-5 million renovation and will require all current structures to be torn down and replaced.

With financing such a project in the current economic environment an impossibility, Mr. Tuck told the board that the redevelopment plan calls for nine of the twenty-seven holes to be closed.

The plan is to close the “North Course” and turn holes one thru six into a conservation easement and rezone a portion of the remaining land, approximately 30 acres, into multi-family housing and sell to a developer for funds to renovate the country club.

The renovation of the club would result in a modern club house and amenities and the eventual renovation of the golf course itself.

Mr. Tuck, who lives in Greenville,  South Carolina, said “I did not come down here to put a house in somebody’s backyard. No one will have a house in their backyard -but we must do something.”

He told the board he would a need a change in the restrictive covenants to move forward with plans and then dropped this bombshell.

If not changed, the current covenants, which end in 2021, will allow the owner of the club property at that time, to build single family homes on all of the property, approximately 200 acres, that makes up the entire 27 hole golf course.

Mr. Tuck said the original developer, JT Williams, was smart in that he built the fairways of the original eighteen holes wide enough to accommodate a road with room for single family homes on both sides.

Mr. Tuck said that a change in covenants to accommodate the redevelopment of the North Course could also extend the convents for the other eighteen holes pass 2021.

Mr. Tuck is the owner and president of Wingfield Golf. Wingfield Golf is located in Greenville, SC and currently manages 6 semi-private golf courses in North Carolina, Virginia and Mississippi.

Mr. Tuck has over 30 years experience in managing golf properties in the Southeast and has played an active role in the financing of over 50 golf properties. He has a BS degree from The University of North Carolina and was a licensed Certified Public Accountant in North and South Carolina, as well as a member of the American Institute of CPAs.  

7 Responses to Major Changes Proposed for Killearn Country Club

  1. Richard Boutin Reply

    October 8, 2014 at 10:29 am

    Proposed redevelopment of Killearn’s golf course back nine must limit the 30 acre multifamily zoning to the lowest unit density per acre in the zoning code. Along with granting this provision, owners must execute an agreement into perpetuity that the remaining course is reserved for golf course purposes so we do not have some out of state owner with a threat to redevelope every few years! The alternate (denial) will result in a golf course, abandoned , overgrown in weeds , and an eyesore to the Killearn Estates residents—with an unfavourable impact on market value of our homes. As an alternate , the owner (B. Tuck) with his vast “experience” in golf course management, might well consider digging down into his own pocket of reserve funds and pull off this redevelopment himself without destroying the amenity package of a prestine neighbourhood of fine homes with apartment development!

  2. John Reply

    October 8, 2014 at 10:05 pm

    The plan sounds like a wonderful idea. Saving 6 holes permanently for conservation and an additional 40 years restriction on the other 18 holes that will take it thru 2061. Add in new facilities and KCC will be the best club around.

  3. Truth Reply

    October 8, 2014 at 10:49 pm

    What club is Killearn “unable to compete” with? The rest of the clubs in this town are far worse off and losing members and money. This is one of the only clubs with solid year over year membership and tradition.

    One of the major problems with this plan is that it appears to be underfunded, and there is no explanation as to how the shortfall will be made up. The Plan calls for the Club to obtain rezoning (which isn’t cheap) and sell property for approximately $4 million. Thereafter, the club will pay existing debt (in an amount the owner refuses to disclose) and demolish all existing facilities (which isn’t cheap) and re-build brand new ones (which is extremely expensive). The money obtained from the sale of the land is simply not enough to do all of this, and there is no explanation as to how the shortfall will be covered. The land that is promised to be a conservation land on holes 1-6 of the North Course will likely have to be sold and parceled into single family home sites to assist with the shortfall. If there still isn’t enough at that point, and no club facilities, the owner will just have to sell the original 18 holes to a developer for development (which is perhaps the real plan here) since he emphasized repeatedly that the original 18 is wide enough for roads on either side). It doesn’t add up. This is a popular club with a great design and history. The loss of this historic 27 hole facility would be tragic.

  4. bob fulford Reply

    October 9, 2014 at 9:03 am

    While those of us in the central city and south and west side are not glad to see the Killearn folk impacted by “progress” we do take comfort in seeing that greed, like the rain, can fall on everyone.

    Meanwhile, I suggest that the comment that one option would be to let the entire 200 acres grow up in weeds, a comment meant to say that that option would be bad, I believe would be the best option. Eventually those weeds could become a long leaf pine forest and that would really be worthwhile.

  5. bob fulford Reply

    October 9, 2014 at 9:11 am

    It occurs that all golf courses may be either failing for whatever cause or are prime targets for residential development. Given that Hillaman, Gaither and Capital City may be in someone’s sights, right now would not be too early to look at how the loss of a golf course (if you can call that a loss) might be made into a gain for the larger public good. Urban forests are valuable in uncountable ways.

  6. Jared Willis Reply

    October 20, 2014 at 10:02 am

    As a former employee of the Killearn Country Club, I can say that the problem is not the course, the facilities or the membership. It’s the management. The entire place is very poorly managed. It really is a nice facility (though a bit dated), and the members are fantastic. The management has really bungled this, and now Mr. Tuck wants the members to spend more money for unnecessary renovations. He could simply renovate the existing buildings and update them. There’s no reason to do all the rezoning and shuffling other than the fact that he can make a little more money out of it. It’s criminal.

  7. Stan Reply

    October 13, 2015 at 9:53 am

    Another former employee, I was an assistant around 1971 to Ken Creely and Ron Townsend. JT Williams was the president and a Bill Cartee was also involved. Home of the Tallassee Open and host to many state legislatures while in session, it was a great place with fantastic management with Ken and Ron. Lee Trevino and every top tour player played there with the exception of Jack and Arnie. The event, supported by “Capitol Statesmen” hosted the event every year. Other than Capitol City Club, KGCC, was the best, including the F&B product. The little club had one several national architectural awards at the time. I remember Bob Hope stopping by to hit the range while he was in the area at FSU. I was there before the “new nine”, but I can tell you, there wasn’t a better course around and the club was top notch. But time does go one. I can only say, KGCC was a gem and hopefully will be 30 years from now. All the great ones that become legacies have had major decisions to make. You can do it. That is why the are great. Hopefully KGCC will be there years from now. I will be traveling thru the area soon and will definitely stop by to possibly play a great course and travel down nostalgia lane. Since my young years at Killearn, I went on in the club and hotel business in Texas, South Carolina, Aspen and Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. My advice, don’t lose it. Don’t listen to the naysayers or class envioust’s (I know, it’s not a word) Once it is gone—-it will not be back.

    Good luck with KG&CC

    Stan Becker in Dallas, Texas
    Former manager, hospitality consultant.

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