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Hudson Golf Club no longer after this season

Chris Hanson, owner of the Hudson Golf Club, announced Tuesday morning that the course will close for good at the end of this season.

“After serving the Hudson community since the 1950s, the financial viability of the golf course is simply unsustainable,” Hanson said in a press release.

He said that when his family bought the 140-acre golf course and clubhouse in the spring of 2010 they were committed to offering premier golfing in Hudson.

Hanson said the family company, Hanson Bros. LLC, invested more than $2 million in improvements to the clubhouse and other facilities in hopes that it would make the course more financially viable.

“Despite those investments and other efforts to increase play, we have not found a financially sustainable business model,” he was quoted as saying in the press release.

Part of the problem is “an oversaturated golf market,” the press release said, noting that 500 courses nationwide have closed since 2006.

Hanson and his attorney, Jeff Redmon, met first with Mayor Alan Burchill and Community Development Director Dennis Darnold on Tuesday morning to tell them about the planned closing and ask the city to consider allowing redevelopment of the property.

Following the meeting with Burchill and Darnold, Hanson and Redmon sat down with a Star-Observer reporter.

They presented a concept plan for redevelopment of some 80 acres of the golf course as a big box retail center and an office park.

The retail development would come first, on more than 40 acres of land behind the Target store. The plan drafted by Kathy L. Anderson of Architectural Consortium LLC shows one 150,000-square-foot store and six others about one-third the size.

“This really only works if you have a big box store,” Redmon said.

The golf course property is currently zoned for residential use. Redmond said the Hansons have also asked someone to draft a residential plan for the property, but he doesn’t think anyone wants that.

“Hanson Bros. LLC would like to thank the course patrons for their support, and hopes for their continued support in future endeavors to redevelop the site and bring increased revenue to the community,” the press release said.

“The Hudson Golf Club has a rich history in the Hudson community -- enjoying several hundred members and hosting many business, community and family events. It is the hope that the nearly 140 acre site can be redeveloped to continue to serve the needs of the Hudson community.”

When the Hansons purchased the golf course for $3.6 million, they agreed not to redevelop the property for another use within 10 years. The Hudson Golf Club shareholders had the ability to let them out of the agreement, and when the association dissolved, that power transferred to the Hudson City Council.

Redmon said the total value of the proposed retail and office development is $66 million, at a minimum, and would generate almost $1.2 million annually in property taxes, with more than $250,000 of that amount going to the city.

The golf club’s total property tax bill this year was $86,000, Redmon said.

Ward Avenue would be extended along the southern and eastern edges of the golf course property under the concept plan presented Tuesday. Streets would also be built to serve the retail development and office park.

Redmon said Hanson Bros. LLC would be seeking an amendment to Hudson’s

comprehensive land use plan and the rezoning of 133 acres of the golf course “for the appropriate uses.” The city recently rezoned the clubhouse and two development lots on Carmichael Road (a total of roughly seven acres) for commercial use.

Redmond said commercial zoning is appropriate for the golf course because of its proximity to I-94 and adjacent commercial districts to the south and east.

“While no tenants have been identified, a large national retail anchor tenant will be proposed in the multi-purpose redevelopment plan, along with other retail and office uses,” the press release said.

The benefits of the development to the city would include increased tax revenue, job creation and reduced traffic congestion on the Carmichael Road/I-94 interchange, according to the press release.

It said Hanson Bros. LLC would work with the city to commission a study showing what impact the development would have on traffic in the area.

When asked to comment on the Hansons’ announcement, Mayor Alan Burchill said, “It’s disappointing that Hudson is going to lose a golf course.”

Burchill said it would be premature to comment on the Hansons’ development plans.

“There’s zoning issues that have to be reviewed and the comprehensive plan has to be changed, so there is just a lot of work that needs to be done,” he said. “Until that gets done, I really can’t say much.”

Darnold also declined to comment on the proposed redevelopment, saying concept plans are subject to change.

“There is a public process that is required for change of zoning and comprehensive plan amendments. Those would have to be considered by the Plan Commission and Common Council,” he noted.

He said he wouldn’t comment on Hanson Bros. LLC’s proposals until the city receives the applications for changing the comprehensive plan and zoning.

Randy Hanson

Randy Hanson has reported for the Star-Observer since 1997. He came to Hudson after 11 years with the Inter-County Leader at Frederic, and eight years of teaching social studies. He’s a graduate of UW-Eau Claire.

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