Last spring, we thought we had a big story: Struggling Standard County Club might be redeveloped.
But as is so often the case, the interesting story was obscuring the important story.
The Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence began negotiations last week with the non-profit board that owns the 150-acre country club property, says Louis I. Waterman, fund chairman.
“The goal is to figure out whether the property represents an opportunity to create an asset for the larger Jewish community here,” said Waterman, who’s an attorney with Louisville-based law firm Fore, Miller & Schwartz.
(The Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence’s two charter missions are to invest in medical research, and to support Louisville’s Jewish Community.)
“I view this as a potential opportunity,” Waterman said. “The question is, what can we do with 150 acres to benefit the Jewish community? The answer to that is, ‘We don’t know yet.’ ”
To get a community consensus on the best and highest use for the property, the Jewish Heritage Fund is creating a task force that will survey as many community leaders as possible, including rabbis and top officials at Jewish-oriented agencies such as the Jewish Community of Louisville and the National Council of Jewish Women.
Waterman sees an 18-to-24-month effort to try and drill down into community sentiment as to what to do with a prime piece of property with nearly unlimited potential.
“Very rarely do you get a chance to do something transformational,” he said. The worst-case scenario is there is no consensus, and the fund holds the property in its portfolio, Waterman said.
In March, sources told us declining membership had the Standard board exploring the possibility of redeveloping the parcel on Brownsboro Road near Goose Creek Road in eastern Jefferson County, close to major shopping centers and affluent neighborhoods.
Standard Country Club includes an 18-hole golf course, clay and hard-surface tennis courts, an Olympic-size pool, a fishing lake and a 28,000-square-foot clubhouse that is now closed.
Whatever the outcome, the goal is to make exploring options for Standard a process that is as transparent as possible, Waterman said. “Can I tell you where (the process) is going? Not really.
“I don’t want to rule anything out.”
Waterman added he is trying to clear up some of the rumors and misunderstandings circulating around the embryonic plan.
“There is no plan to convert Standard into ‘Jewish Community Center East,’ though that could be a possible outcome,” he said. “But when I’m at the synagogue … people are coming up to me and saying, ‘You’re going to close (the existing) JCC and move it to the country club?’
“We couldn’t do that … we don’t even own JCC.”
Jewish Community Center at Cannons and Dutchmans lanes is a full-service community complex with swimming pools, tennis courts, gymnasiums and meeting space. However, Jewish participation at the center has dropped off sharply during the last decade, and the majority of members are non-Jews.
Standard Country Club was founded in the late 19th Century on River Road near Zorn Avenue as a country club for Jewish executives who weren’t allowed to join Louisville’s Gentile clubs, according to “Adath Louisville, The Story of a Jewish Community” by the the late journalist and historian Herman Landau.
In 1952, Standard moved to its current location.
Standard has hosted major tournaments, including the 2009 USGA U.S. Open and Mid-Am Qualifiers, as well as the Kentucky PGA 2009 Section Championship, according to its website.
Nationwide, country clubs and golf clubs have suffered from over-development and lack of interest by Generation-X and Millennials.
A number of Louisville country clubs have experienced financial problems since 2000, including Oxmoor Country Club. Oxmoor took Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2002, then recovered.
About the Jewish Heritage Fund: The Jewish Heritage Fund was formed in 2012 after the merger of Catholic Health Initiatives’ Kentucky operations, Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s Healthcare and University of Louisville Hospital to form KentuckyOne.
The fund has four assets: A capital fund that currently is at about $90 million, the Cardiovascular Innovation Institute building at 302 E. Muhammad Ali Blvd. in the downtown medical center, a 15 percent interest in KentuckyOne Health hospital system and 13 percent interest in Passport Health Plan, the Medicaid managed care organization that also includes the University of Louisville, Norton HealthCare and other hospital systems.
The Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence will commit over $4 million in grants to the Jewish community at large and the medical research community by the end of 2013.