In the new Golf World, Mike Cullity considers the plight of Hamilton Hall in St. Andrews.
Hamilton Hall's current state is a far cry from the vision promised by its owner, Wasserman Real Estate Capital LLC, a Providence, R.I., development firm that bought the building from St. Andrews University for £20 million (about $40 million) in 2006. A 40-year-old developer of retail, mixed-use and residential properties, the firm planned to transform the old dormitory into a luxury residence club called St. Andrews Grand that would open in mid-2008 and count Phil Mickelson among the members paying a seven-figure sum for a share in one of 23 lavishly appointed apartments.
But those plans have been abandoned, and as St. Andrews looks toward the Open's slated return to the Old Course in 2010, locals are speculating about Hamilton Hall's future and expressing concerns over its appearance. The public outcry is a prominent example of the conflict that has emerged in Scotland between local interests seeking to preserve the historic character of golf's birthplace and real-estate developers—including Donald Trump, who for two years has battled local officials over a plan to build a $2.1 billion golf resort along Scotland's northeast coast—looking for a piece of the country's lucrative golf tourism pie.
Aiming to attract wealthy travelers, St. Andrews Grand did not generate the interest Wasserman Real Estate Capital had hoped for, said David Wasserman, the firm's principal. "We had demand but not necessarily enough demand to carry the whole project through," he said. "We learned the market is not deep enough for fractional residences at that price point."
Nice quote, but way too transparent.