Seek transfer of Westwood land to Town of Amherst for Audubon property
AMHERST, NY August 1, 2012 –Mensch Capital Partners, LLC today filed a request with the Amherst Town Board to consider transferring the Westwood Country Club to the town in return for 170 acres of the Audubon Golf Course.
If the Town Board ultimately approves the Westwood-Audubon land exchange after a required review process, Mensch would assume ownership of the Audubon property no sooner than Jan. 1, 2014. Under the proposal, Mensch would obtain 170 acres of the 243-acre Audubon property, placing it on the tax rolls.
The town would take over Westwood, its golf course, pool, clubhouse and revitalized business model. The town would also retain the Audubon Par 3 course. The Westwood would become designated parkland and greenspace. Mensch stresses the fact that Culinary Productions will continue to operate the site and that all events there will occur as planned with full service until at least the end of 2013.
The exchange would mean the town would own a tournament-quality golf course, versus its current ownership of the municipal Audubon course.
“Buffalo-Niagara is in a positive transition with the Buffalo waterfront emerging and the medical campus booming, and we think that Amherst has a role in contributing to this renaissance,” said Andrew J. Shaevel, Mensch managing partner. “This is smart growth, with LEED-designed buildings and abundant, publicly accessible greenspace.”
Munsch officials said that it would look to develop the Audubon site with input from the town, nearby residents and the University at Buffalo. They anticipate a Millersport Highway-focused project to connect UB to its surrounding community, as recommended by the town’s Bicentennial Comprehensive plan and the UB 2020 Plan. A letter explaining the plan to 1,500 surrounding residents will be mailed this week.
The partners envision a mixed-use lifestyle project consisting of greenspace, retail, residential, hospitality and commercial development, which would also achieve one of the project’s objectives: to minimize impact on Maple Road. Incorporated in the plan is a 30- to 40-acre memorial park in the southeast corner of the property.
“An exchange of the Westwood property for the Audubon property is one of the primary options we’re exploring at this time,” said Shaevel. “We feel this is the most effective and useful option for the neighbors, the town and UB.”
Mensch Capital’s request should be acknowledged by the Town Board as received during its August 6 meeting. It is anticipated that it will then be referred to departments for review and comment, the first step of many in the review process. Mensch said it engaged New York City-based urban planner and Western New York native Jay Valgora to lead the planning process. It also wants to work with town officials and the community as a whole to chart the best course.On March 20, Mensch Capital announced its purchase of the Westwood Country Club for $2.5 million, averting the club’s bankruptcy. Culinary Productions signed a lease agreement with Mensch to operate the clubhouse and the golf course. The lease was to run more than 40 years, but included termination provisions by which the two parties reserved the right to terminate with 18 months advance notice. Culinary Productions announced its termination of that lease last month, ending its agreement effective Dec. 31, 2013.“Our plan is to do a whole lot of listening – to UB, the town, residents, property owners, businesses, and include them in this process. We want to move forward to create a connected Amherst, and recognize that collaboration with and from all interested parties is critical.”The Westwood Country Club is located between Sheridan Drive and Maple Road and along North Forest Road. The Audubon property is situated between Millersport Highway, North Forest Road and Maple Road.ABOUT MENSCH CAPITAL PARTNERS Mensch Capital Partners, LLC, is a private consortium of business leaders and investors, including Andrew J. Shaevel and Paul J. Kolkmeyer of Essjay