Pine Brook owners aiming to build homes

GLOVERSVILLE – The new owners of Pine Brook Golf Course say they will continue to operate the course and may build condos and town homes around it.

Everett Simek of Johnstown purchased the 157-acre property for $200,000 at an auction earlier this year. He operates E.J. Simek General Contractors on Snyder Avenue in Johnstown.

The new owners plan to open the course to the public in the spring.

“My dad [Everett Simek] was joking with people saying the only club you’re going to need at Pine Brook is a sand wedge because we previously were in the sand and gravel business, but it’s going to stay a golf course,” Jim Simek said last week. “We’ve always wanted to own a golf course, so this came up and the price was right.”

He said the family previously purchased property in Missouri with the plan to build a golf course, but due to the demands of their business, that hope never came to fruition. Now that they have a more local endeavor, their vision can become reality, Simek said.

Simek said he, his father and John Antonucci are partners in the endeavor. The three worked out an agreement before the auction to work together so the Simeks and Antonucci wouldn’t end up bidding each other up on the price.

He said Antonucci wants some of the property for an expansion of his business while the Simeks wanted the golf course.

Antonucci was unavailable to comment on his business’s expansion.

Several large spruce trees recently were cut down on the Pine Brook property at the request of National Grid, Simek said.

“National Grid noticed the ownership transfer and asked if they could cut them down because a lot of them were dying and the primary lines to Gloversville go right along there,” Simek said. “It’s unfortunate, but they thought it would be best for everybody.”

However, given the large amount of undeveloped land included in the sale of the course, all of the partners will have a part in the construction of high-end condos and town homes around the property.

City Assessor Joni Dennie said the Pine Brook property consists of 157 acres of land. Simek said about 60 acres is used for the course, leaving a lot of room for expansion.

While the exact number of residential units is still undetermined, Simek said the cost to take on such an endeavor will be relatively affordable for the investors because of their presence in the construction business.

“The town houses and condos would bring a lot of tax revenue back to the city of Gloversville, but it also allows us to revitalize Main Street by allowing people to live here,” Simek said.

Mayor Dayton King and Commissioner of Finance Bruce Van Genderen have been meeting with Simek over the past several weeks to discuss the plans for more development.

City officials said if everything goes according to plan, the vision will help the city.

“I think it would be huge,” King said. “The people that usually buy memberships usually have discretionary funds, so not only will they be spending their money at the golf course, but also throughout downtown Gloversville.”

Van Genderen said the property already provides the city with a large amount of tax revenue due to the enormous size, but the expansion of residential housing would significantly boost that total.

“If you start putting condos and town houses around here, it’s going to have a big impact on our tax base,” he said.

Simek said some of the ideal locations for the residential space would be along the wooded hill area behind the driving range to look over the Pine Brook property, and also along the wooded area on hole nine.

Simek said he believes there will be a market for the homes once the new Tryon business park and other industrial parks around the region begin to bring in high-wage jobs.

He also said the new owners are considering adding a few more sand traps, tees and greens, along with a lighting system to provide the community with a par-three nine-hole “twilight golf” experience during the evening.

Simek said the additional greens and lights would be located off the longer holes such as one and two and would make it less costly than trying to light the entire property.

Simek said the owners at some point may remodel the pro shop, which will serve as the primary structure for patrons. He said the clubhouse would become a banquet hall for special events.

He said ideally, the course will have the twilight features and residential units in development within the next two to three years.

Simek said the owners are thinking of buying a grill to provide lunch and will acquire a liquor license to continue serving guests at the course.

NBT Bank foreclosed on the Pine Brook Golf Club property last year.

Last season, Blasper Inc., co-owned by Don Blanchard and Jim Esper, leased the golf course from the nonprofit corporation

The bank filed foreclosure papers in state Supreme Court on Jan. 18, 2013. The bank says it was owed $323,826. In the foreclosure complaint, the bank names Pine Brook Golf Club, the Fulton County Economic Development Corp., the state Department of Taxation and Finance, the city of Gloversville and Nathan Littauer Hospital Association. All of the entities had a connection to the property, according to court papers.

The course, formerly a private golf club, had been open as a public facility under the management of Blasper Inc.

Simek said the course will remain open to the public. He said the owners will aim to make sure the memberships and green fees remain affordable for the general community.

He said the exact prices still have to be determined, but the course will open when spring weather arrives.

“It’s really all about giving back to the community and making people want to come here,” Simek said. “Pine Brook is something special because even though it’s on Main Street in the city of Gloversville, it provides an escape from the city environment.”