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Closed Legends Country Club "No Surprise," Says Eureka Alderman; Owners Cite Finances

Several Eureka Board of Aldermen said last week's closure of The Country Club at The Legends in Eureka seemed eminent. The family owners of the course say it merely became a financial decision. Following are next, expected steps.

Eureka Board of Alderman, Don Beckerle, Ward 3, said receiving a letter that The Country Club at The Legends in Eureka had closed operations did not surprise him and other country club members.

"The writing was on the wall," he said at Tuesday evening's board of aldermen meeting.

Read previous article:  Country Club Closes at The Legends in Eureka

The good news, said Beckerle, is that four or five parties are interested in bidding on the course and country club.

"We hope to see a smooth transfer of ownership in the next month or two," he said.

"The course is good for Eureka, it's a main reason why the Legends has grown, and it's a big part of our community."

The Legends club manager Patti Natoli told Patch Wednesday afternoon closing the course was a hard decision to make, but one that became necessary after her father, Carmelo Natoli, died in November. "This course, which he owned since 1996, was his passion. He loved it, and kept it because of its beauty," she said.

There were different partners through the years, but Natoli said the course never was profitable all this time, and her father continued to invest his own finances into it. She said her family contemplated selling the course last year, but couldn't come to an agreement. So they instead invested in it by buying new carts, furniture and other items. "We gave it all we could, and wanted to make it work on its own," she said.

"Our family recently had to decide if we were going to put more money into the club, and we realized it was either change the club into a semi-private one or close it."

Natoli said strict indentures restrict the course to a 27-hole, private for-profit country club. "We discovered we would have to work through the homeowners' association, which had indentures from 1989 that said homeowners must be given 90 days notice for a vote on such an option. I understand the homeowners' perspective, but waiting for that vote just wouldn't have been feasible. After that vote, we also would have had to go through the city's zoning process. We didn't want to open the course for the golf season, then potentially have to close it in the middle of the season."

So they opted to close now.

She said a semi-private status change should have helped the situation, and that they desired to protect members' perks while also having some limited public access. "With privately owned, non-equity clubs, the owners pay for all the shortfalls. With member-owned or equity clubs, members are assessed at the end of a fiscal year with related updates."

She said they are open-minded to proposals, and have a few possible buyers.

Natoli said tournaments that were scheduled there are on-hold at the moment, with the hope that if a new buyer is secured quickly enough, the tournaments may remain. She said she had reached out to everyone who had scheduled events there this year, and only one wedding reception party was canceled.

"We had 25 wonderful employees here, and have kept them informed as much as we could along the way. We've tried to help line them up with other country clubs," she said.

"We also had a lot of great members. This is a sad decision all around. The economy is so bad, many country clubs are struggling. But we have great hopes that something will work out for this club."

Editor's Note @1:11 p.m. on Feb. 7: Please see reader's question in the comments' section of this article, and the Patch response/answers. Those details provide important elements that many have been wondering about The Legends' price structure.

Ginger DiMenna February 07, 2013 at 09:28 PM
I live in the Legends and didn't know about a summer program
Brenda Allen February 07, 2013 at 10:04 PM
I wonder about the portion of dues ea. resident pays toward the namesake course. Will monies be refunded? This was a huge battle a few years ago when the club requested to be paid more money by residents.
Julie Brown Patton February 08, 2013 at 09:54 PM
St. Louis Business Journal today references The Legends' owners trying to sell the Eureka club for $1.7 million.
Julie Brown Patton February 08, 2013 at 09:56 PM
The Legends' owners indicated it cost $1.9 million in 2012 to run the club, and that it consistently operated at a loss.
Reginald Alexander April 24, 2013 at 12:21 PM
Eminent vs. imminent. fyi

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