The UCHRA has delayed a decision on the future of Lakeside Resort in DeKalb County until April 17.
Members of the UCHRA Policy Council, chaired by DeKalb County Mayor Mike Foster, met Monday morning in Cookeville to review proposals from four groups wanting to either buy, lease, or manage the facility. But members of the council wanted to find out more about these groups, so they have postponed action until April 17. In the meantime, those submitting proposals will be asked to provide references, financial statements, and if chosen, to put up a $750,000 insurance policy against any damages to the facility. The groups have until April 9 to comply with the council's request. Another committee will review the proposals and make a selection recommendation to the full policy council.
Robin Driver of Center Hill Chalets, Inc is among those who have submitted a proposal to manage Lakeside Resort, and to "purchase the facility once it is profitable".
Others who have offered bids include Donnie Davidson of the Davidson Investment Group and Deanna Ebert Pierson of PeopleBuildersUSA, both of whom want to purchase Lakeside, and Bob Sortis who wants to initially lease the facility to be used as a Christian Retreat.
Lakeside Resort, consisting of 139 acres on the banks of Center Hill Lake off of the Cookeville Highway, has created problems for UCHRA financially, apparently being unable to support itself or to service the debt on the $1.6 million note owed on property there.
UCHRA acquired Lakeside Resort several years ago, securing a 25 year lease at a dollar a year from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who owns the property. According to UCHRA officials, the lease included provisions that the property be used for area recreation and an educational facility. Whoever the UCHRA sells or leases the property to will most likely have to continue to agree to those same provisions.
UCHRA currently partners with Tennessee Tech to offer a Professional Resort and Quantity Food Management course, which was formerly taught through Pellissippi Community College. But the funding for that class will no longer be available once the current students graduate the program in June.
Lakeside offers guest cottages and apartments along with the lakeside lodge, featuring 26 units, 18 lake front and eight pool front, classrooms, and boat slips.
The lodge was built using funds from Rural Development, who offered UCHRA a $1.5 million low-interest loan, aimed at helping with job and educational development in rural counties.
Last October, 10 Lakeside employees, including full and part time, workers were laid off, reportedly saving approximately $165,000 for the 2012 fiscal year.
Robin Driver's plan calls for Center Hill Chalets, Inc to "manage Lakeside Resort and all facilities associated with it, as well as weddings, banquets, corporate and business gatherings while at all times promoting the best interests of UCHRA".
Under the proposal, Center Hill Chalets would charge a management fee of 40% on all revenue generated by the lease management and rental of the facilities. UCHRA would retain ownership of the Lakeside Complex and keep the remaining 60% of the revenue, most of which would be used to service the debt still owed on the facility.
According to the company's background information, "Center Hill Chalets, Inc has been managing vacation rental property on Center Hill Lake since 2002 and is the only state licensed company on Center Hill Lake, managing over forty individual properties in the Center Hill Lake and Rock Island areas. Having managed resort property the past ten years, Center Hill Chalets, Inc has a vast knowledge of the market and how to maximize the revenue from the property while keeping the overhead in check. Center Hill Chalets has been profitable every year and has had increased revenue for the past three years in a row."
Bob Sortis wants to convert Lakeside Lodge into a Christian Retreat. Sortis currently serves as the Resort, Food, and Hospitality Management teacher at Lakeside and operates catering for Lakeside Resort. He is also a licensed realtor and is a property manager for several different rentals in Cookeville.
In his proposal, Sortis wrote that "Lakeside Lodge would continue to be the prime alternative corporate meeting spot and a gorgeous wedding location. In addition, Lakeside Lodge would become the premier event locale by hosting events such as Marriage Enrichment Seminars, Church Retreats, Pastor's Getaways, Music/Fine Art Festivals, Car Shows, and educational seminars."
Sortis wants to add a prayer room, fitness room, spa services, recreation room including original fine artworks in cabins/rooms, horseback riding, teach art, photography, cooking, and canoeing classes, expand the gift shop, create a fishing and a swimming area in the lake, and open hiking trails.
Sortis proposes to lease Lakeside Resort with the intention to purchase under certain conditions.
The lessee (Sortis) agrees to pay UCHRA a monthly rental fee of $5,000 per month.
In 2011, Lakeside sales were $608,000 at a 24% occupancy rate. Based on a 50% occupancy rate, anticipated 2012 sales will be $1.2 million. If sales reach or exceed $1 million, lessee (Sortis) will pay UCHRA a yearly bonus of $60,000.
Sortis proposes ten, one year contracts to be signed upon acceptance of the proposal.
Contracts would be automatically renewed yearly unless UCHRA is notified by the lessee (Sortis), thirty days prior to the renewal date. In the first five years, lessee (Sortis) will assume the loan from Rural Development.
Donnie Davidson of the Davidson Investment Group wants to purchase assets of Lakeside Resort and has proposed a cash offer of $500,000, contingent upon the Corps of Engineers extending the lease of the Lakeside Resort operation through the year 2042. All assets and property improvements would become the ownership of Davidson Investment Group upon payment to UCHRA.
Deanna Ebert Pierson, of PeopleBuildersUSA, proposes to purchase and create a true resort atmosphere at Lakeside Resort. PeopleBuildersUSA, founded in 2006, is a faith-based 501(c) 3 organization.
Pierson proposes to establish Lakeside as a year round, full service lodging and educational facility for corporate retreats, small meetings, and church groups.
She is offering a purchase price of $1.8 million for the entire holdings of Lakeside Resort and to enter into a lease management contract pending approval of the loan and any and all other necessary documents. Yearly payments of $130,000 would be made to USDA to service the debt on the existing loan.