Crusader Staff Report
An equity firm has been approved by the Gary Redevelopment Commission to purchase the historic South Gleason Park Golf Course and Gilroy Stadium.
But few councilmen know what the firm, Bradford Equities Management LLC, will do with the property once the purchase goes through.
In a special Zoom meeting Friday, September 4, the commission voted 3-2 to accept the offer.
Commissioner Eric Reaves—in a news report—said he was unable to disclose Bradford Equities’ intent for the property but hinted that it is centered around a distribution warehouse or light manufacturing operation.
That explanation it appears, is not good enough for some city council members who expressed concerns over the possible sale and development of the historic property.
District 5 Councilwoman Linda Barnes Caldwell two days before the vote, said she received an email from District 4 Councilman Tai Adkins, informing her about the proposed sale. She told the Crusader that the vote was actually scheduled to take place on Wednesday, September 2, but was moved to Friday because one official wanted to get a copy of the contract.
Caldwell said a couple of months ago, she took a walk-thru the golf course with Reaves, who said the city had plans to sell the facility.
“I said what? You’re going to sell it. He said that he would let me know before the sale happens. We have beautiful homes on 35th Avenue and a senior citizen building there. Why would you put a light industrial facility there? Would you put that in the Miller neighborhood? I’m not going to support any zoning change for this sale.”
District Councilman William Godwin told the Crusader that his representative on the commission tried to move the vote to another day so he and other councilmen can review the contract.
“We had some questions and concerns about this contract,” Godwin said. “We’ll see what happens next, but I don’t intend to support a zoning change for the light industrial in that neighborhood.”
The redevelopment commission members who voted against the sale were Adam Hall and Jeremiah King. Hall reportedly wanted the sale deferred, saying there were “too many inconsistencies” in the contract.
Like Councilman King, [Hall] raised questions about the commission’s lack of communication with city council members.
According to its website, since 1974, Bradford Equities Management LLC and its affiliates have acquired more than 150 companies with sales of more than $4 billion and whose total transaction values have exceeded $2 billion. Bessemer Securities Corporation and foreign clients of Bessemer Trust Company, N.A., were founding partners in 1974.
The team of Bradford Equities Management LLC is comprised of Robert J. Simon, Neil J. Taylor and David W. Jaffin. These three individuals have about 100 years of combined experience in private equity investing and acquisition finance.
For the purchase to go through, it must clear zoning hurdles. The 155-acre parcel is zoned R-1 or single family residential and F-1 or flood plain. The city-owned South Gleason Park Golf Course and Gilroy Stadium sits at 3400 Jefferson St., just west of Indiana University Northwest in a Glen Park residential area. The property is also minutes from Interstate 80/94.
Opened in 1920, the 18-hole South Gleason Golf Course was named after William P. Gleason, superintendent for U.S. Steel. It is a Tudor revival style clubhouse that includes locker rooms, showers, a restaurant, and a golf shop designed by Architect George W. Maher, who also designed the historic Gary Bathing Beach Aquatorium in Marquette Park in the Miller Beach neighborhood.
In recent years, the Gary chapter of the Black fraternity Omega Psi Phi has used the South Gleason Golf Course and clubhouse for outings.
The possible sale did not please Rinzer Williams III, a city council attorney, who reportedly argued that he had the first right to purchase the property based on his amended contract with the Gary Park Board in 2019.