Developer Bruce Toll eyes bid for Cherry Hill country club

Posted: March 13, 2013

Investor and developer Bruce E. Toll has emerged as a possible bidder for the bankrupt Woodcrest Country Club in Cherry Hill.

Jeffery Kurtzman, an attorney for Toll's BET Funding L.L.C., said Toll would develop the 155-acre property as a medical campus if his firm does bid for the country club and succeeds in buying it.

"A lot of dominoes have to fall into place," Kurtzman said.

A medical campus would comply with the traditionally Jewish country club's institutional zoning, according to Scott Victor, of SSG Capital Advisors of West Conshohocken, which the bankruptcy trustee has engaged to market and conduct the public sale.

The trustee, Bonnie Glantz Fatell, of the Blank Rome law firm, has not yet filed a motion seeking to set a date for the auction.

While the Toll name is best known in the area as homebuilders, Kurtzman said BET Funding does not expect Cherry Hill Township would change the zoning to residential and would not seek to do so.

Kurtzman, of Klehr Harrison Harvey Branzburg, filed a notice of appearance with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court on Monday, signaling Toll's interest.

Until last week, only one firm - Crestwood Property Group L.L.C. - had emerged as a likely bidder, its name a clear play on the Woodcrest name.

Crestwood's principals are members of the Brown family who control Sun National Bank of Vineland, N.J., the club's only secured creditor. Sidney R. Brown, the bank's vice chairman, was a member of Woodcrest's board.

Kurt F. Gwynne, the lawyer representing Crestwood, has not responded to requests for comment on the firm's possible plans for the property.

Fatell has informed Woodcrest members that the club does not have money to open this year and that the sale of the property is the only option remaining.

Woodcrest members who have personal belongings at the club can pick up their property between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday. Additional dates may be set in April, since some members are wintering in Florida and will not return before then, the trustee said.

Woodcrest filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in May as it was about to undergo a sheriff's sale sought by Sun, which financed a disputed and ill-fated clubhouse expansion.

In a reorganization plan filed in January, Woodcrest reported claims of more than $20 million, including $11.8 million by the bank.

The par-71 course dates to 1929 and later began operating as a daily-fee public course. It became a private club and haven for area Jewish golfers starting in 1948, a time when Jews found it hard to get into other private clubs.


Contact Joseph Gambardello at 856-779-3844 or gambarj@phillynews.com.

 

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