Union League says it wants to buy Woodcrest Country Club

Woodcrest filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last year and did not open for the season. Several groups have expressed interest in buying it, some for redevelopment.
Woodcrest filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last year and did not open for the season. Several groups have expressed interest in buying it, some for redevelopment.
Posted: April 03, 2013

The Union League of Philadelphia wants to buy Cherry Hill's bankrupt Woodcrest Country Club and continue to operate it as a golf course, an attorney for the Center City institution said Monday.

Edmond George said the league planned to bid on the club at a public auction scheduled for May 20.

A Marlton real estate group has entered into an agreement with a bankruptcy trustee to buy the club for $6.25 million, an offer that will serve as the minimum bid.

Under terms approved Monday by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Judith H. Wizmur, interested buyers will have to bid at least $100,000 above the offer made by Cherry Hill Land Associates L.L.C., a subsidiary of First Montgomery Group.

Cherry Hill Land Associates - which has not disclosed its plans for the course - will also receive a $156,000 breakup fee and up to $50,000 in expenses if the club is sold to another bidder, under terms Wizmur approved.

At a hearing Monday in Wizmur's courtroom in Camden, George argued that those terms would dissuade potential bidders, who will have to pay at least $300,000 above the minimum bid to satisfy the terms.

Wizmur agreed that the added cost "does act as perhaps an impediment" to potential bidders, but said the size of the bid justified the breakup fee.

"This offer has, in effect, reset the process at a much higher value," Wizmur said.

The $6.25 million offer by Cherry Hill Land Associates is "by far" the highest for the club, said J. Scott Victor of SSG Capital Advisors, the financial adviser appointed by bankruptcy trustee Bonnie Glantz Fatell to market the 155-acre property.

Victor - who said SSG Capital Advisors contacted nearly 260 potential purchasers while marketing the club - said interested buyers had continued to come forward since Cherry Hill Land Associates made its bid for the historically Jewish country club, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last year and did not open for the season.

Crestwood Property Group L.L.C. previously offered $5.1 million for the property. Its principals are members of the Brown family who are on the board of the club's main creditor, Sun National Bank of Vineland, N.J., which is owed $11.8 million.

Investor and developer Bruce Toll has also expressed interest in the club, saying he would develop it as a medical campus.

Lawyers for Toll and Crestwood did not return messages Monday. Diane E. Vuocolo, a lawyer for Sun who expressed support for the agreement with Cherry Hill Land Associates, declined to comment.

An attorney for Cherry Hill Land Associates, Jerrold S. Kulback, did not comment on what the group planned to do with the club if it won the auction, other than to say, "Not golf."

First Montgomery has real estate holdings in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey, including 4,000 apartment units, according to its website.

The property is zoned for institutional use. Township officials - who have filed a motion seeking the sale of the club to recover more than $106,000 in back taxes and a further $53,000 due May 1 - have said they do not support changing the zoning.

While George questioned the need to award Cherry Hill Land Associates the breakup fee - "It's like giving the award for the longest drive on the first hole," he said - Kulback said George was acting out of self-interest.

"He should have stepped up to the plate," Kulback said, adding that the Union League could have made a similar bid.

"It's time to fish or cut bait sometimes," he said. "And they didn't want to fish."

The bid deadline is May 16. A credit bid by Sun would be due May 19.


Contact Maddie Hanna at 856-779-3232 or mhanna@phillynews.com .

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