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Superior National Golf Course RFP

Request For Proposals: Evaluation of Superior National Golf Course at Lutsen  

Cook County, a municipal corporation formed under the laws of the State of Minnesota, requests proposals from qualified golf course management experts regarding a comprehensive assessment of :

1. The current physical and fiscal state of the Superior National Golf Course at Lutsen (the "Golf Course");

2. Viable options for future ownership and management of the Golf Course;

3. Analysis of the costs and benefits of various approaches to owning (including whether private or public ownership is preferable) and managing the Golf Course, including future use potential, maintenance objectives, earnings, and financing issues related to the Golf Course; and

4. Any other pertinent issues, commentary, or advice that the management expert can provide and deems appropriate to county evaluation of this property asset and its future.

The Golf Course is owned by the joint Cook County-City of Grand Marais Economic Development Agency (the "EDA"). A brief history of the Golf Course from its inception to the current date is included for your information, below.

Proposals will be evaluated on a best value basis, as defined in MS Section 16C.02, and assessment of proposals will include a review of delineated criteria from MS Section 16C.02, Subd. 4a, among other considerations. Proposals and any questions regarding this Request or the evaluation process should be submitted prior to November 20, 2010, to:

Cook County Auditor-Treasurer
Cook County Court House
411 West 2nd Street
Grand Marais, MN 55604
218-387-3640 (phone)
218-387-3043 (fax)
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

We expect to hire a management expert to complete this evaluation on or about December 14, 2010, and we will expect that the evaluation will be completed on or before February 28, 2011.
A Brief History of Superior National at Lutsen

• In 1986, Scott Harrison (a Duluth based Economic and Financial Consultant at the time) was hired by George Nelson to develop an Economic Development Plan for the Lutsen area. An integral part of the overall plan identified the need for new summer attractions which included the development of first class destination based golf course.

• As a condition of the Business Plan, George Nelson pledged up to 320 acres for the development of a first class golf course on land which had been held by the family for over 100 years -- land that encompassed some of the more dramatic and beautiful landscapes in the Midwest (the Poplar River, Sawtooth Mountains as a backdrop with Lake Superior offering outstanding view sheds).

• In February 1987, Scott Harrison made a legislative presentation to then Tax Committee Chairperson Doug Johnson and suggested a two percent lodging tax in the Lutsen-Tofte-Schroeder historic tax district to fund the development of a 18 Hole Championship Golf Course.

• In April 1987 -- state lodging tax legislation was enacted that called for a 3% lodging tax in the Lutsen-Tofte-Schroeder area with 2% of the tax pledged for financing the development of the golf course (through General Obligation bond financing) with an additional 1% dedicated exclusively for area marketing and promotion.

• Summer 1987 -- Lutsen-Tofte Tourism Association was awarded planning grant from the IRRRB for golf course development due diligence

• Fall 1987 -- Senior Consultant Joe Much from the National Golf Foundation (NGF) was hired to examine the feasibility of developing a first class destination golf course in a northern tiered climate where length of playing season would be shorter when compared to other geographic areas. NGF determined land use characteristics and climate suitable for a first class destination golf course with the recognition that due to a shorter playing season, the development would require the support of public financing to augment a shorter season. NFG estimated total rounds to peak at 15,800 for 18 holes.

• Toro, Inc. examined the feasibility of installing a single row golf course irrigation system including estimating water demand needs. DNR (Poplar River) and the Department of Interior (Lake Superior) were contacted to examine permitting process for golf course water source needs.

• March 1988 -- The Northspan Group (Duluth) was hired to conduct an Economic Impact Study -- to estimate economic related benefits to Cook County with the development of a first class destination golf course (new real estate development, new taxes, food and beverage sales, new lodging nights, new employment, etc) resulting from golf course operations. Northspan estimated total rounds to peak at 23,000 for 18 holes at course maturity while identifying related economic impacts and area benefits.

• Summer 1988 -- Golf Course Architects were contacted through a request for proposal process to develop an 18-hole routing plan on the land pledged by George Nelson. Don Herfort was selected to develop the preliminary routing plan for 18 holes.

• Summer 1988 -- Golf Course contractors were contacted to examine preliminary routing plan developed by Herfort.

• October 1988 -- presentation of findings (National Golf Foundation, Toro, Northspan Group Economic Impact Study, lodging tax legislative action, routing plan, etc).

• Spring 1989 -- Continued negotiations with Cook County including:

o Development of Golf Course Tax Increment District;
o Construction Management Agreement (management contract with Recreation Management Corp -- RMC) to manage and oversee construction of 18 holes; and
o Operations Management Agreement -- develop management agreement with RMC to manage golf course daily operations.

• Cook County creates EDA to serve as development agent for Cook County for Golf Course project.

• Mr. Nelson conveys land to EDA for golf course.

• Area Lodging Properties establishes tax pledge to support financing the development of golf course.

• Area lodging properties establishes a Pre-Sale Green Fee Plan as additional financing support for golf course development.

• Final 18 Golf Course Design delivered with full construction documents.

• Construction bid process.

• Cook County issues General Obligation Tax Increment Bonds August 1989.

Brief Construction History

• Architect's plan finalized April, 1989
• Golf Course Superintendent hired April, 1989
• Surveyor's work complete (routing plan
and final design features) June, 1989
• Relocation of UPA power line July, 1989
• Construction begins Sept, 1989
• DNR negotiations (irrigation needs) Fall, 1989
• Irrigation system complete Sept, 1990
• Construction complete Sept, 1990
• First play - open to public Aug, 1991

Balance of Development Needs after Initial Construction

• Development of Club House (Federal EDA Grant and Bonding)
• Final grading and paving of common areas
• Landscaping and Signage

Summary of Development Funding

• Cook County Bond - 18 Hole Construction $2,115,000
• IRRRB Grant $60,000
• IRRB Loan $200,000
• Soil and Water Conservation Grant $80,000
• Arrowhead Electric/UPA Loan $200,000
• County Bond $545,000
• Federal EDA $220,00
• EDA Revenue Bonds - 9 Hole Expansion 1,820,000
Total $5,240,000

From 1989-2002, Recreation Management Corporation ("RMC") managed the Golf Course. The EDA took over management of the course from the RMC in 2002. The organizational chart shown below illustrates the operating and reporting procedure instituted by the EDA.
This organization differs from that under the RMC where both the Director of Golf and the Golf Course Superintendent reported to the RMC Board of Directors. When the EDA took over management of the course from RMC, the EDA changed the Director of Golf position change to the Director of Golf Operations (DGO), making the DGO responsible for all golf operations, including maintenance operations with the Superintendent reporting directly to the DGO.


 Historical Rounds Played at Superior National  Capital Reinvestment History  Marketing Expenditure History  |




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