Closed almost two years, there are signs of life for the Fianna Hills Country Club and golf course in Fort Smith. A group of local investors has made an offer to buy the club and grounds, with a closing date set for Sept. 15.
Aaron St. Amant, a Realtor with O’Neal Real Estate in Fort Smith and agent for the buyers, confirmed with Talk Business & Politics that a deal is in the works to reopen the club that was closed by owner David Millé on Dec. 31, 2018.
The following note was posted on the Fianna Hills Property Owners Facebook page: “We are happy to announce that an offer was made to the present owner of the Fianna Hills Country Club and associated golf course property. The official offer was accepted by the Seller late last week and efforts are currently underway to finalize numerous details pertaining to the fulfillment of this agreement. Meanwhile, meetings are being held to identify potential investors and possible candidates for occupying the restaurant space. We are looking forward to restoring the Fianna Hills Country Club and course to its original intended use while preserving property values and providing a safe and friendly place for families and Fianna residents to enjoy for many years to come.”
St. Amant said the property owners board is attempting to organize more investors to help acquire the property and pay for its renovation. He said there are “ongoing discussions” with national golf club management companies and restaurant owners, and the intent is to restore the property to as an operational golf course and country club. A meeting with property owners and potential investors is set for 7 to 8 p.m., July 23, at the Forefront Church, 10300 Jenny Lind Road.
St. Amant also said economic and other challenges resulting from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic will factor into the strategy as to when the club and course might reopen and how amenities might change.
Lance Beaty, president and CEO of Beaty Capital Group, which owns and manages TempleLive in downtown Fort Smith and the former Masonic Temple in downtown Cleveland, said “there are good bones” with the club and course, but it will take a significant investment to reopen and restore. Beaty proposed in 2014 a $20 million development of the club and course but dropped the plan when the economics became tough and “when it was clear” not all residents at the time approved the deal, Beaty said.
Beaty said a future new owner or owners will have to make a big investment because there is an “enormous amount of deferred maintenance and assets that are simply beyond their economic life,” and a successful, long-term renovation can’t be bootstrapped. He said he is willing to share his research from his 2014 plan to buy the property. He also said it’s in the best interests of adjacent property owners to financially support the property’s renovation and reuse as much as possible.
“I’ve got an extensive file on a cap-ex (capital expenditure) plan to make that work, and if I can help, I’ll be glad to. Also, I’d like to add, that it would behoove every property owner up there to get behind it,” he said.