Golf News

Public golf course up could be sold for $426K

Public golf course up could be sold for $426K

SARTELL, Minnesota — Since tabling the proposal to sell the 9-hole, 81-acre Pine Ridge Golf Course, the city of Sartell is taking another look at its appraisal numbers and has put out a fact sheet before the expected vote May 22.

The City Council was prepared to approve the sale to Three Tees LLC for $426,000 during its May 8 meeting, but after questions were raised about the value of the property and the amount of information available to the public, the board voted to table the sale until its next meeting.

The city of Sartell is about 75 miles northwest of downtown Minneapolis.

“This is massive — quite literally might be the largest decision I’ve been asked to make in seven years of sitting on the City Council,” Mayor Ryan Fitzthum said at the May 8 meeting.

Three Tees is owned by restauranteur Brandon Testa, who is the owner of House of Pizza and son of its founder, Bob Testa. House of Pizza first opened in 1964 in downtown St. Cloud and currently has two locations in Sartell and west St. Cloud.

Brandon Testa plans to build a new restaurant at the course, though he declined to give many details about its concept. He has no experience in operating a golf course, but said buying it seemed like an opportunity, “not to replace, but add to Sartell’s current restaurant portfolio.” He said the unnamed restaurant would be unique to the area and appealing to people who golf or don’t. He said he would continue to operate House of Pizza separately in Sartell.

Testa, a prominent business owner in the town, is acquaintances with several members of the council. Councilmember Jill Smith said her motivations for supporting the sale stem from her desire to keep Pine Cone Ridge an amenity for the city.

“I do not want this burden to fall on taxpayers and see an opportunity for a private buyer to make a real impact from an economic development standpoint,” she said.

Sartell would place a deed on the property, heavily regulating the buyer for 30 years — which is the maximum allowed by state law. The deed significantly devalues the land, requiring that the 9-hole course is maintained to U.S. Golf Association standards and requires that the buyer add improvements to the clubhouse, parking lot and irrigation system by 2025.

That’s why Sartell began exploring the sale last year, according to the city’s engagement director, Nikki Sweeter. Though equipment at the course is functional and doesn’t require immediate work, the parking lot could be…


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