[Ed note: My Southborough accepts signed letters to the editor submitted by Southborough residents. Letters may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.]
To the Editor:
Is the Golf Course Deal a good one or not?
Several people have asked me if the deal to purchase the golf course is favorable to the town or not. Recognizing that there was no public auction that would have produced a market clearing price for the land it is hard to establish value but a reasonable range of estimates can be made:
What is the Golf Course Worth?
The parcel is 60 Acres of which 17 A are wetlands and another 5 or so are tied up in long term septic easements (Woodward school). This leaves about 38 develop-able acres. Leaving 10% for open space and 10% for roads and utilities a reasonable estimate is that as many as 30-35 single family homes could be built on the parcel. At $150,000 – per lot that would be $4.5 million to $5.2 million. If the land can be developed at higher densities it might bring more. The land is currently assessed at $5,223,000. I think this is a reasonable floor and a high end might be 30% more. (Note that the Millbrook golf course went for $5.5 million with a similar amount of develop-able land (higher density development with sewers). So, my semi educated estimate is that the value lies between $5.2 million and $6.8 million.
What are we paying?
Cash – $4.5 million + the cost of demolishing the club house and any clean up of hazardous waste.
The “Stump Dump” – The Stump Dump is a 1.6 A parcel that abuts St Marks land and is assessed at $342,000. I think this is a generous assessment but it is an ANR lot so it might be worth that much. I think a reasonable range is $250k to $350k
The Public Safety Facilities on Main St – Putting a value on these is hard. The site is assessed at $2,286,000. A private buyer might be able to rehab the buildings at a reasonable price and put in restaurant/office/commercial/condo space. (Starbucks?) and be able to justify that sort of price tag. It is a large lot in the center of town and could have significant commercial appeal. My best guess is that a reasonable number is between $1.5 million and $2.2 Million. If we pass the reuse of historic building by law these buildings could become more valuable. St Marks also takes responsibility for any hazardous waste clean up.
So where does this leave us.
The golf course is worth between $5.2 million and $6.8 million. We are paying between $6.25 million and $7.05 million. There is certainly overlap between the two ranges. I believe we are paying reasonably close to market for the land. It could reasonably be called a fair deal but not a bargain.
What about the $1,000,000 in savings by not moving the Fire Station?
This appears to be an illusion. In the budgets it turns out this was carried at $500,000. Offsetting this is at least $900,000 in site development costs (water, gas, traffic light) that could be avoided if we remained on the current site or push into the St Marks Meadow (which would also cost money).
If anyone has better analysis please feel free to chime in.