First published in The Magnolia News – November 2023

Many here are fine with the fact that the Club is privately owned. Others feel that the private ownership model here is fatally flawed. No matter your position, change is inevitable, and sooner or later, the current owners will move on. But then, maybe they won’t. Maybe they have a plan for what’s next that involves members of their own family, or others. We don’t know. But the Use Agreement stipulates that the Magnolia Point Community Association be notified if the owners intend to sell, that we will be offered the opportunity to make an offer and have 90 days to reach terms agreeable to both parties. We’d like to introduce what we feel are the three options available when and if the Club is put in play.

This has been my public position since my one and only campaign for a Board seat in 2020. It was the pitch I gave at every doorstep where I was welcomed, was in my printed campaign fliers, posted to social media, and was the centerpiece of each of my Candidate Forum presentations. Spoiler Alert: No, I didn’t get elected, so there’s that.

It’s not just my idea, from the 2022 Magnolia Point Strategic Plan: “Because the Club is the sole source of amenities for the community, seventy-eight percent of respondents feel the BoD should have an emergency plan in place in the event the Club ceases operation.” One long-time resident and Mens’ Golf Association member tells me the feeling among some in his group is, ‘We’re one hurricane away from disaster here.’

‘Cease operation’ or ‘sell to another party’, the effect is the same: business not as usual. There are three scenarios that could play out, three options that we have as a community:

Cross Our Fingers, and hope that the Club goes to somebody nice. A private individual, a corporation, it doesn’t matter. Just as long as the new owner(s) respect the values of the community, and come bearing resources and expertise to keep it a going concern, to benefit themselves, of course, but also the residents of Magnolia Point.

Make an Offer, and hope it’s accepted. That’s got a lot of upside, and downside. We will need to cover the purchase price and ongoing operating expenses. We’re already $438,00 per year in the ‘contribution to overhead’ column with the Use Agreement, so there’s that. Still, ownership has a lot of unknowns, and we know nothing about Club finances, really, or any liens, off-balance sheet financing, or encumbrances. But we’ll all be owners of the Club and, that’s called ownership, not ‘implied’ home values, and that goes right to the bottom line of each home’s equity here.

Prepare for another approach: This might more correctly be called option ‘2a’: a combination of #1 & #2, above. We make an offer, and structure an equity sharing arrangement with the owner, either present or future, in which we contribute to ownership, and participate in operations, both contribution to overhead and a share in whatever profits are generated. Whether the latter involves monthly restaurant minimums, increased golf, tennis & event dues and/or public fees for same, residents volunteering time and skills for Club operations, well, it all needs to be worked out. (Full Disclosure: this option is inspired by a recommendation in the Strategic Plan, a document which, if you’re not familiar with, we highly recommend for a thorough read.)

Which brings us, again, to the point of this appeal: we need to start planning something now. Just look at the 6 months of inertia that’s bogged down progress on Tower Park’s disposition. And those delays are plaguing an attempt to sell something we own.

We feel that as fiduciaries, the Board should take a leadership role in advancing discussion on this very pressing issue. Immediately.

– Editor