By ZEINAB NAJM
HEIGHTS — Warren Valley Golf Course has a new concessioner with Issa Brothers, LLC and Revive Golf Management, LLC following a vote by the City Council Aug. 4.
The lease agreement was approved 5-1 — in a re-vote after a unanimous initial vote — at the special meeting with Councilman Tom Wencel opposing and Councilman Hassan Ahmad absent.
Wencel said he believes there are holes in the contact, calling the agreement one of the biggest things the city’s ever done.
Wesam Issa, of Issa Brothers thanked everyone during the public comment portion of the meeting. He plans to include a golf shop, restaurant and banquet hall for events.
“I’ll promise to make the residents happy,” he said. “We’re going to get this golf course up and running. Trust me when I tell you guys, I put a lot of hours and time into this thing. Behind closed doors nobody knows what I’ve been through. I got the best team for this. Trust me.”
The lease agreement between the LLCs and the city is for 10 years with a cost of $60,000 in rent which will be paid monthly in $5,000 payments. Two five-year renewals are also included in the terms.
According to the agreement, the city receives a concession fee equal to 10 percent of gross green fees along with 10 percent of net profit from the sale of alcoholic beverages.
The lease start period begins on the date that Issa Brothers obtains a certificate of occupancy for the golf course. A date of April 1, 2023, was included for a concession commencement date.
Issa Brothers, Revive Golf and the city will be working until the start of the next golf season to ensure the course is playable, which includes improvements.
The agreement says that Issa Brothers will invest $3.4 million into the various upgrades needed while the city will pay for equipment, costing between $790,000 and $1.7 million.
Another vote was taken during the meeting was for the money to be spent on repairs and certificate of occupancy which is up to $800,000. The motion passed 5-1, with again Wencel opposing and Ahmad absent.
With the agreement, work can begin on the course which Mayor Bill Bazzi said was already walked through by the Issa Brothers. He congratulated them and said a work plan is already in process.
Council Chair Dave Abdallah said the goal for the golf course is to provide a service for the city and its residents. Councilman Ray Muscat said that the decision was one that weighs heavily on everyone’s hearts, including his.
Discussions on the golf course concessioner have been going on for months as the council and city administration worked on the process starting with the bidding process in February.
The previous operator, Oneida, was under contract from October 2016 to September 2021. As part of the contract, Oneida was responsible for the maintenance, repair and updating of all facility assets, including the clubhouse.
Prior to the contract’s expiration, the city offered a status quo agreement that would have allowed Oneida to continue its work at the facility. The city didn’t receive a response to its proposal, according to a city press release.
Instead, the city’s Legal Department received a communication Feb. 3 from Oneida’s attorneys, saying that Oneida was “keen to hand over the golf course to the city by Feb. 17,” and that “time is now of the essence.”
Since then, it had been discovered that due to Oneida’s breech of its contractual responsibilities, critical, unaddressed maintenance issues within the clubhouse exist.
These discrepancies, coupled with the need to locate a new operator, necessitated the facility’s closure effective Feb. 28 until both issues could be remedied. The facility is still closed.
The 36-hole course was designed and built by world-renowned Scottish golf architect, Donald Ross. It was his first Michigan course.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected])