GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - A Grand Rapids golf course has been sold to the Blandford Nature Center and will keep the area in a natural state.
The Highlands Golf Club, which borders Blandford, is 121 acres on the west side of Grand Rapids. The nature center is making the purchase with the Land Conservancy of West Michigan.
The Highlands has been in operation for over 100 years, but was put on the market in the last year. The property was originally slated to become a housing development.
The project was spurred by a $3 million loan from The Conservation Fund of Arlington, Virginia, which works with local communities to "protect properties for wildlife and recreation." Joe Engel, the Executive Director of the Land Conservancy says in a release they have received grants already from the Wege Foundation, the Grand Rapids Community Foundation, the Cook Foundation and the Ken and Judy Betz Family.
Third Coast had originally obtained an option to buy the land and build condominiums and homes on the site. “Once we started talking to Blandford about the future of the property, we realized that sometimes development needs to take a back seat to an idea that benefits our entire community,” said Brad Rosely of Third Coast, in the press release. Third Coast and Pioneer Construction are also financially supporting the project.
In a release, the nature center says that the first phase of the project is underway, including acquiring the land, followed by biodiversity studies and preparation for public access. After the short-term loan is paid off, the Land Conservancy will take ownership of a portion of the property and then the second phase will include the launch of habitat restoration, trail development and public programs.