EXETER — A marketing brochure for Exeter's Reading Country Club has caused a firestorm on social media sites.
The brochure circulated by a Lancaster real estate firm is available for download on LoopNet, an online marketplace for commercial property.
Its design and content caused some to mistakenly believe the township-owned property had been listed for sale.
The backlash prompted the township to issue a statement, which can be read on its website.
“The document is not a commercial real estate listing,” said Laurie Getz, township director of communications and community engagement. “It is a confidential offering in support of the township's request for qualifications.”
According to the township's statement, the supervisors retained the professional services of real estate firm High Associates Ltd. of Lancaster to assist in the two-step process that will determine the future of not only the Reading Country Club, but also the township's current municipal complex.
The township plans to sell the complex, a five-acre parcel at 4975 DeMoss Road. Municipal offices will be moved to the partially vacant Promenade Shopping Center, 3925 Perkiomen Ave., which the township is in the process of buying for $2.5 million.
Sparrow Asset Backed Series 2012 LP, Savannah, Ga., is the current owner, according to online county records.
The sale of the current municipal complex will pay for the new complex, said John Granger, township manager.
Granger said the supervisors have not determined if the existing shopping center will be renovated or a new building will replace the center.
Township residents have expressed the desire and need for more senior housing in the township, so they could sell their homes yet remain in Exeter, he said. The current municipal complex, which is within walking distance of existing retail and medical facilities, seems to be an ideal location, Granger said.
Neither the existing municipal complex nor the Promenade is mentioned in the RFQ released by the supervisors in May.
The purpose of the RFQ is to obtain letters of interest and qualifications from operators and developers seeking to manage, lease or buy all or portions of the country club property.
The deadline for completing step one, the RFQ, has been extended to Nov. 1.
Once the RFQ is completed, the supervisors will release a request for proposals or RFP to identify qualified firms.
Proposals will be reviewed by the supervisors with input from township residents and administration.
Granger said the future of the country club has been debated for more than three years and the consensus is that a long-term plan is needed. Township administration is not designed to operate the country club, which consists of three components: a golf course, restaurant and catering/banquet service, he said. However, he noted, there is a strong desire among some residents and supervisors to keep the facility operating.
Ideas might include leasing the entire property to a qualified operator that can manage all three components.
The township's main priority is to outsource the operations of the country club to a qualified company or group of companies that will manage all three components, the statement said. And High Associates retained a Golf Property Analysts of Conshohocken, a well-known golf-industry specialist, to seek proposals from qualified operators.
There has also been discussion on a possible hotel on the property, according to the statement.
Although sale of the country club property is not off the table, “it seems unlikely that a reasonable sale price for the property can be achieved,” according to the statement.