Local buyer back in line to get country club

Published 5:00 am Monday, July 16, 2007

The Brookhaven Country Club will be under local ownership by theend of the month after an out-of-town buyer defaulted on thepurchase, officials said today.

Jeff Wilson, the former owner of the Wilson Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge,became the leading bidder for the 18-hole golf course and otherfacilities Wednesday when Jackson-based Alcatec LLC failed to closeon the property.

“It was kind of a shock for me,” Wilson said today. “I got windshe had not closed a few days ago, but I didn’t pay it muchattention until I got a call yesterday morning that I’m backin.”

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Alcatec, owned by Rosemary Barbour, and Wilson were the only twoof six bidders to make bids on the property during a public auctionlast month, Wilson said.

Alcatec won the auction with a bid of $810,000. Wilson increasedhis initial bid of $621,000 to $700,000 during the sale, but cameup short.

“She convinced me during the bidding that no matter what I bidshe would beat me, so I stopped bidding,” he said. “That’s why thisis all a surprise to me that she didn’t close.”

Joe Luzinski, an associate with Development Specialists, LLC.,said Alcatec had been given 21 days to close on the property,located just off Highway 51 North.

“That period ended Tuesday,” he said. “Mr. Wilson is back in theposition of being the buyer.”

Alcatec forfeited a $64,600 deposit by failing to close in thespecified time, Luzinski said.

Barbour’s company, which has a $28 million federal contract tomaintain more than 4,000 Federal Emergency Management Agencytrailers, was recently accused of labor violations for allegedlynot paying overtime for workers. Also, it came under FBIinvestigation a few day after the country club auction.

Barbour did not respond to requests for comment by press timetoday.

Wilson has until July 25 to close on the country club, Luzinskisaid.

“I won’t have any trouble making it in 14 days,” Wilson said.”I’ll be able to submit the paperwork in a few days.”

The Brookhaven native said his plans are not as extravagant asthose of Barbour’s, who had intended to add a spa and possiblyother facilities.

“I intend to continue to run it as a country club much like ithas,” Wilson said. “The worst thing about the whole transaction isthe timing. It has been struggling and we’re about to enter a slowperiod.”

Spring and summer are the busiest seasons for the club, he said,and play begins to dwindle with the start of the school year.

It may, however, give Wilson some time to make improvements onthe facilities. He said his first goal is to improve the golfcourse with a secondary goal of renovating the buildings.

“That won’t be immediate, though. It will take some time,”Wilson said.

Brookhaven Country Club facilities also include a swimming pool,club house and eight tennis courts.

Developments Specialists was hired to oversee the biddingprocess and disbursement of property once owned by former WorldComCEO Bernie Ebbers. It has been selling off pieces of Ebbers’property for more than a year with proceeds placed into a fiduciaryfund that will be distributed to the plaintiffs in a lawsuit.

Ebbers was found guilty of securities fraud, conspiracy andfiling false documents with regulators, leading to the company’scollapse and costing investors and employees major financial lossesand pensions.

The country club is the last asset owned by Ebbers in LincolnCounty to be sold.