By Syma Chowdhry, Ian Bush
CHERRY HILL, NJ (CBS) — The Woodcrest Country Club in Cherry Hill will soon have new owners.
Cherry Hill Land Associates won the property for $10.1 million. They were among four major bidders that attended the private auction in Center City on Monday morning.
The group has not commented on what they would do with the 155 acres of land, but folks living near the country club say they hope it doesn’t become housing or retail space.
“We just have plenty of retail. In my opinion, we do not need the aggravation and the traffic,” Suzanne Pedrick said.
“Housing is not selling. Retail — we have that up the wazoo,” said Alex Alexanian, whose backyard leads to the golf course where the 9th hole used to be.
Alexanian said the area’s streets were not designed for heavy traffic.
“It’s not very accessible from the road,” he added.
“We can only hope that they will follow the lead of the community – the community wants this preserved as open space,” said Camden County Freeholder Jeffrey Nash.
So does the county – and the Union League of Philadelphia and a George Norcross investors’ group, which wanted to keep it as a golf course. But none could match the $10.1 million bid by Cherry Hill Land Associates.
“I do find it surprising that anyone would pay more than $4 million over the appraised value,” said Nash.
Perhaps to build a hospital or other medical facility, which the zoning would support. Nash says any development has to clear federal and local hurdles.
“I don’t know it’s their intent, but if that is their intent, they’re going to have to fight the community,” said Nash.
In a statement, Cherry Hill mayor Chuck Cahn says he’s disappointed in the outcome of the auction:
“Our position has not changed: Council and I do not want to see this site developed, and we will not support any change in zoning. We intend to do everything in our power to keep this property as either a golf course or open space – and to ensure that any plans moving forward preserve the integrity of this environmentally sensitive piece of land.”
Camden County lost its bid on the property, which they had hoped to keep as undeveloped land.
The other two losing bidders said they would’ve kept it as a golf course, something the neighbors wanted.
Alexanian said, “I would like it to be a golf course. I think it is an asset to the community.”
Neighbor Zach Schlagle added, “I would want them to keep it a country club so we won’t have a lot of traffic or a lot of people going in there.”
George E. Norcross III & Ira Lubert, one of the losing bidders, released a statement on Monday that reads:
“We are disappointed that our $10 million bid was not enough to win the auction and ensure the restoration and preservation of this nearly century-old community landmark. As one of the largest remaining green spaces in Cherry Hill Township, this site is unique in all of South Jersey. While we are disappointed in the outcome, it is our fervent hope that the new owners will honor the longstanding community’s wishes to keep this site open and available for all to enjoy for generations to come.”
A hearing to approve the sale to Cherry Hill Land Associates will take place at the end of this week.
“Whatever they do with it, will hopefully it will be good for everyone,” Schlagle said.
If the winning bidder does want to take the golf course and turn it into housing or retail space, they will need to get zoning approval first.