Psst. Hey, buddy – wanna buy an indoor driving range?
The 86,000-square-foot, 85-foot-tall inflatable dome that housed central Ohio’s only indoor driving range until its closure Feb. 28 is on the auction block, along with other infrastructure and property at the former Four Seasons Golf Center, 5000 E. Broad St. in Whitehall.
As of July 14, no one had placed any bids on the golf dome at an online auction – but officials in Whitehall, which owns the property, are not alarmed.
“We’re confident it will be sold,” Development Director Zach Woodruff said.
Mitch Hicks, owner of Mitch’s Online Auction Team at Auction Ohio, which is overseeing the sale of the golf dome and other property at the site, said July 14 it is common for there to be little or no activity until the final days, or even hours, before bidding closes.
“Typically, there is a flurry of activity (near the end) on auctions like this,” Hicks said.
There is no reserve bid for the golf dome or any of the property at the site.
But the auction’s Web site, auctionohio.com, indicates similar golf domes typically are made to order and valued between $600,000 and $750,000.
Ten different lots were being auctioned; all close around 8 p.m. Tuesday, July 18, according to the website.
The golf dome, which includes railings, lighting and mechanics, is being auctioned separately from other property at Four Seasons.
Other lots include the miniature golf course, glass-panel garage doors, ornamental grasses, landscaping rocks, metal railings and area lighting for the parking lot and driving range.
As of July 14, minimal bids of $13 or less had been placed on five of the 10 lots.
Buyers are responsible for the removal of the property – deadlines for removal vary depending on the item – and all sales require cash or a wire transfer of cash, according to the website.
Auction Ohio will collect an 11 percent premium and also retain part of the proceeds of the auction.
“The auction house will keep 30 percent ... and cut a check to us for the rest,” Woodruff said.
The city chose Auction Ohio to handle the sale because of its previous working relationship, Woodruff said.
“Our parks and recreation department (has used Auction Ohio) to dispose of surplus equipment ... so it was a natural fit.”
If any property remains unsold, a new contract for services with Auction Ohio would be required, Hicks said.
But Woodruff does not believe it will be necessary.
“If anything remains unsold, we believe it would be things that are not of value, and we would dispose of the property in another way,” Woodruff said.
The city retained ownership of the golf dome after reaching an out-of-court agreement stemming from a lease dispute between Whitehall and Four Seasons.
Four Seasons has leased 37 acres on the north side of East Broad Street, east of North Hamilton Road, from Whitehall since 2001, renewing the lease multiple times.
But according to Whitehall officials, Four Seasons missed a deadline to renew the lease, meaning it would expire March 31, 2016.
City officials said then “it was not in the best interest” of the city to renew the lease.
Four Seasons filed a complaint March 23, 2016, in Franklin County Common Pleas Court citing city officials’ verbal indication that they would renew the lease and asking the court to compel the city to renew it; Whitehall asked the court to require Four Seasons to vacate the property.
The golf center also indicated it had made investments to improve the facility, based on the anticipated lease renewal, and that the city had not escrowed past lease payments as agreed.
Four Seasons remained in operation during the dispute.
In December 2016, both parties agreed Whitehall would pay Four Seasons $250,000 and that the center would cease operations by Feb. 28 and vacate the property by March 7.
Whitehall intends to use about 13 of the 37 acres for office development; the remainder will be absorbed into Whitehall Community Park, Woodruff said.
The additional park space would compensate for the sale of 6 acres to Heartland Bank for its new headquarters, adjacent to the north end of the park.
Woodruff said the city hopes to have a developer identified by October to move forward with plans for a 100,000 square-foot building likely to include medical offices.
The proposed development keeps with the findings of a study the city commissioned last year from the Montrose Group.
According to the study, presented last year to Whitehall City Council, the 37-acre site benefits from proximity to John Glenn International Airport and the campus of Mount Carmel East Hospital.
“Whitehall is making its own opportunities. We aren’t just waiting for (opportunity) to come to us,” Mayor Kim Maggard said last year. “The golf dome is city property and we would be remiss if we did not find the best use for the land.”
Woodruff said last week that once the assets are removed from the site – expected by mid-August – the city will begin working with the civil engineering firm EMH&T to determine issues such as grading of the property, some of which is within a flood plain.
He said the city has had conversations with some developers, but no tentative companies have been identified.