Last part of golf club land sold

Published 4:13 pm Saturday, August 17, 2013

Shell Rock River Watershed District plans to use land for staging

American Bank of St. Paul sold the second half of the former century-old Albert Lea Country Club Friday, opening a new chapter for local residents.

Brett Behnke

Brett Behnke

The bank and the Shell Rock River Watershed District closed on 50 acres — known to Albert Leans as the “front nine” — for $290,000.

“We’re excited to move forward with the project,” said Administrator Brett Behnke. “It’s an essential piece to our dredging and Fountain Lake reclamation project, and we appreciate the community’s support and the city’s support.”

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District officials have said they hope to use the land as a staging area during the dredging of Fountain Lake and also hope to restore 16 acres of wetlands there.

Behnke said district officials will move forward with the community’s best interest in mind.

The land was in the hands of the bank after it was surrendered by commercial developer Scott LaFavre following the property’s foreclosure. LaFavre, who grew up in Albert Lea but most recently lived in Bloomington, purchased the land in 2006, announcing plans for a housing development called Eagle’s Rest development.

The development never came to fruition.

“Regardless of what people think of Mr. LaFavre — if his intentions were good or whatever — he created the opportunity for change, for the good or bad,” said Tom Leland, commercial real estate broker and consultant who was involved with the sale. “It hopefully will turn out for the good.”

Leland said if things had not gone as they did, Wedgewood Cove Golf Club would likely not have been created. St. John’s Lutheran Home, which purchased the other half of the property in 2010, plans to break ground this fall on a senior campus overlooking Edgewater Bay.

“Sometimes things have to take a couple steps backward to get good steps forward,” Leland said. He said it was not the plan initially to have a mixed-use development on the property.

Albert Lea Mayor Vern Rasmussen said the land will be in the hands of entities that will take care of the property.

He noted he was also pleased that the purchase takes the community one step closer to seeing Fountain Lake dredged.