By Marty Finley
Reporter, Louisville Business First
A local developer has purchased 45 acres of the shuttered Glenmary Country Club property in Louisville and is working on plans for a multipurpose venue on the site.
Chris Thieneman recently acquired a portion of the country club property for $625,000 from Par Golf LLC. The land includes a clubhouse, pool, tennis courts, barn and multiple holes of the golf course.
Thieneman has proposed a revitalization of the clubhouse and pool and a transformation of the barn into a wedding venue. Thieneman said he also is in discussions with an undisclosed restaurant and wedding venue operator in Shepherdsville that described the location as a “gold mine” for weddings. The clubhouse, he added, could serve as a staging area for the food and catering.
“It’s going to take quite a bit to repair, but the bones are great. Structurally, it’s a wonderful [property],” he said.
He also has proposed a driving range on the site that would include practice bunkers and putting greens, a practice tee area, chipping areas and target greens.
Thieneman is working with Louisville’s Land Design & Development Inc. and Keyes Architects & Associates PLLC on the design now, and he estimates the costs between $1 million and $2 million.
Louisville Business First reported in 2015 that Glenmary Country Club, a semiprivate club and golf course located off Bardstown Road south of the Gene Snyder Freeway, had closed. The Glenmary Homeowners Association had previously agreed to buy the club from Par Golf for roughly $2.1 million. That’s when negotiations got off track.
A dispute ensued, and Par Golf sued the association for breach of contract. The association, in turn, sued Par Golf over plans it had filed with Louisville Metro Planning and Design Services to develop homes on portions of the golf course property.
The legal battle between the Glenmary HOA and Par Golf boils down to the use of the land, and the case is now in the hands of the Kentucky Supreme Court.
The HOA has maintained over the years that deed restrictions put in place during the initial development of the subdivision prohibits the land where the golf course resides from being used for anything other than recreational purposes. Par Golf, meanwhile, has argued that the land could be used for other purposes, such as subdivision or housing development. Par Golf still owns the remaining 100 acres of the golf course.
The Glenmary HOA is aware of Thieneman’s purchase of the property and reviewed the rendering for the proposal but does not know any detailed plans for the land, said Glenmary HOA President Bob Thompson.
The HOA has said on its website that it will oppose any future plans to develop any part of the golf property unless 75% of the residents in all sections of the subdivision, which houses in excess of 850 homes, vote to approve.
“We’re not saying we won’t approve anything. We just need to see what plans there are,” Glenmary HOA Director Ron Huff said.
Thieneman’s plans also have been circulated in the Glenmary neighborhood and some neighbors are excited about the possibility of reusing and revitalizing the site.
Trenda Metcalf said she has lived in Glenmary for more than two decades and her family members have owned multiple homes there. She supports Thieneman’s vision for the property.
“It saddens me to see what once was beautiful what it is now,” she said of the disrepair on the site.
Metcalf said many of her neighbors are ecstatic that Thieneman wants to revive the property, saying he appreciates the natural beauty and history of the site.
“I want him to be successful. If he is not successful, then it will fail again,” she said. “It is imperative for the residents to rally around him and support him.”
Charlie Oliver lives next to the golf course and said some in the neighborhood have mowed parts of the course because they want it to look nice. He also supports Thieneman’s plan.
“I just think it would do so much for our community to bring it back to life. To give us some hope,” he said.
Thieneman said the excitement from the neighbors who support the project have further fueled his desire to revive it, and he said he’d like to see those in the neighborhood band together and buy the remaining property.
He also hopes to make progress with the HOA and work together on this proposal.
“I love a challenge. I love taking over something that’s not the easy way,” he said. “… I always seem to find things that are controversial.”