When Herb Kohler let the world know that he had purchased Hamilton Hall last week, it made perfect sense. Who else could undertake such a mammoth project in an economic climate like this? In fact, who would want to? But Kohler loves golf and clearly loves St. Andrews, as he owns the Old Course Hotel and the Dukes Course, just outside the “Home of Golf.”
“It’s a shambles,” Kohler said of the interior of Hamilton Hall. “You take your life in your hands going from floor to floor.”
So why do it?
Kohler said he loved the location, the history of the property and, as he said, the views of the golf course, the North Sea and the R&A clubhouse are magnificent.
The golf course view from the 6th floor, the highest at Hamilton Hall, must be something, looking down the 18th hole to the 17th green and then off to the right is the first green and more of Old Tom’s home course.
The plan is not to start construction until around August of next year, just after the Open Championship at St. Andrews in July. Kohler is opening the decision making process to members of the town, using a 90-day process before he sits down with architects and engineers to draft a plan.
While the old owners were going to develop a fractional share property, Kohler believes that such a plan will not work in Scotland. The Scots don’t understand the concept, but do understand timeshare programs.
Unfortunately, timeshares are for more austere properties and Hamilton Hall is far beyond that. The likely result for the former hotel and dormitory will be two- and four-bedroom apartments that will be owned and occupied by the owners or put in a rental pool administered by the Old Course Hotel.
You can expect a model apartment to be open for viewing sometime in 2010 and occupancy in 2011, if everything goes well.
I can’t wait.