City considering loan request from new owners of the former Northridge Golf Course

By Gary Scott on March 29, 2018 at 12:05pm

Jacksonville aldermen are in the process of deciding how much money to loan to the new owners of a local golf course.

As previously reported, John and Rachel Rohn of Jacksonville recently purchased the property formerly known as Northridge Hills Golf Course. Earlier this week, John Rohn addressed the Jacksonville city council regarding a loan that would potentially come out of the city’s Revolving Loan Fund. Rohn initially requested a $250-thousand-dollar loan, which is half of the $500-thousand dollars needed to fully fund the overall project. He goes over how the process would work and explains how he came up with the original asking price.

“You can’t ask for more than 50 percent of your total project cost, so that’s what we went in with was for the city to loan us half of the money that it’s going to take to do this project. We’ll put some of our own cash in and then the seller of the course is willing to finance a portion of it himself as well. The bankers in this case would essentially be the seller of the course and the city if they’re willing to approve the deal. We just asked them for some participation on that front if they were willing,” Rohn says.

City Treasurer Ron Smiljanich explains what the Revolving Loan Fund is typically used for.

“It’s money that was given to the state by HUD, Housing and Urban Development. I think our first round of it was in the 1980s and it was passed through the state, through DCEO, to give out loans as gap financing, in other words, it was never meant as a primary financier, it was meant as a gap financier. If a project was ‘X’ dollars and you didn’t have part of it, the Revolving Loan Fund was part of that. Typically the terms on that are three percent and payable up to 15 years,” says Smiljanich.

Rohn explains what his next steps will be in terms of working with the city.

“As I believe, where we left it was that they would like to talk about it again in two weeks in a workshop session. In the meantime, I believe I am supposed to be getting with Ron Smiljanich and Dan Beard to massage some of the details of the deal based on the different council members input and recommendations. So my next step would be to work with Dan (Beard) and Ron (Smiljanich) over the next couple of weeks and then take the council more of a polished plan to what they determine they would like to see out of this (project) in two weeks. That would be my goal at this point,” says Rohn.

The city’s Revolving Loan Fund currently holds around $183-thousand dollars, meaning that it’s unable to provide Rohn with the $250-thousand dollars he’d initially requested. Following some discussion at this week’s city council, aldermen seemed to be somewhat divided on which direction to go, however, several seemed to be appeared to agree on approving a loan of either 100 or $125-thousand dollars.