Many golf courses across the U.S. have closed as the sport’s popularity continues to decline, especially among younger generations. This has led to a surprising trend in the Chicago suburbs, where industrial buyers are snapping up golf courses for their land at a rapid pace, according to CoStar.
Golf courses offer hundreds of acres of suburban land, making them a perfect fit for industrial-development repurposes. However, this new trend raises the question of who would want to trade views of beautiful, lush green landscapes for industrial buildings and metal sheets. Communities and developers are working together to figure out how best to balance the interests of developers and residents.
While developers may be interested in turning golf courses into industrial sites, locals may be averse to truck traffic and unsightly buildings. Developers must work closely with residents and officials to transform open spaces.
Saxon Partners took advantage of an opportunity to purchase the Lansing Country Club for $2.5 million when it went on the market. The developer got approval from officials in Munster, Indiana, to create a $160 million campus for research and light manufacturing. However, the approval process took more than four years because the area’s zoning was changed from industrial to mixed-use, and prospective developers walked away.
The declining popularity of golf has resulted from the waning of the “Tiger effect” from the early 2000s when many municipalities opened their own golf courses to cash in on the sport’s jump in popularity. These publicly owned courses do not pay property taxes, which has put pressure on the privately owned competition. Consequently, property taxes hit the Lansing Club hard, costing members roughly $155,000 for the portion of the club located in Cook County Illinois.
While some golf course sales have been successfully repurposed, others have faced challenges from residents and officials who oppose proposals to build new housing on golf course sites. When weighing the pros and cons of repurposing golf courses, it is worth noting the economic benefit in the form of job creation and increased tax revenue. Despite the public’s concerns, developers remain interested in purchasing golf courses with at least two more deals expected to come in the Chicago market.
Rogal, B. (2021, May 14). Golf courses sell at fast pace, but developers are taking Mulligans on Reuse. Bisnow. Retrieved April 14, 2023, from https://www.bisnow.com/chicago/news/economic-development/golf-courses-selling-at-a-record-pace-but-developers-struggle-over-what-to-do-with-them-108453