Jan 22, 2015 – Two city-owned green spaces in the East End could be transformed through formal lease agreements Houston City Council approved today with two local nonprofits.
The Houston Golf Association plans to pour up to $15 million into the restoration and renovation of historic Gus Wortham Golf Course, and the Houston Botanic Garden may launch an up to $40 million effort to turn Glenbrook Golf Course into a marquee attraction.
The nonprofits must hit formal fundraising goals before they take possession of either course, however. Both groups have been given initial fundraising hurdles of $5 million to clear by the end of the year.
Leaders of both groups said the unanimous council votes strengthen their ability to approach potential donors to reach that mark.
Discussions on the future of both golf courses began more than a year ago, and intensified through much of 2014 as the botanic garden pursued Gus Wortham as its first choice while it became clear community members wanted the site to remain a golf course. Council formalized that path with a vote last November.
“We have the opportunity here where two green spaces which are deteriorating – and it had been made clear to me at the very start when I took office that the city does not have money to renovate these two green spaces,” said Councilman Robert Gallegos, whose District I includes both courses. “We have two organizations that are committed to raise $50 million-plus in renovating these two green spaces that will benefit not only District I but the city of Houston.”
Both leases have initial 30-year terms and can be extended for another 60 years beyond that. The deals make the nonprofits responsible for all fundraising, operations and maintenance, and call for no ongoing city investment at either site.