Local Union Pays $4.3M for Hillcrest Golf Club

Steamfitters Pipefitters Local 455 in St. Paul, which hopes to boost membership at the 90-year-old club, prevailed with its bid because of its vow to keep the club private for at least two years.

A local union paid $4.3 million to purchase Hillcrest Golf Club in St. Paul, vowing to keep it private for a minimum of two years.

Steamfitters Pipefitters Local 455 closed the all-cash deal on February 2.

Gary Erlander, the union's business manager, said that the union plans to expand some of the club's facilities and add some of its own offices onto the 112-acre property-which includes an 18-hole golf course, an 11-year-old club house, and a swimming pool.

“It's a pristine, landmark golf course,” he said.

Erlander said that close to 50 bids for the property were submitted after Hillcrest went up for sale in August for $4.2 million. Some were willing to pay more than his union, but its bid prevailed because of the commitment to keep the club a private golf course.

The union also vowed to retain Hillcrest's four full-time staff members for at least a year-and it's now in the process of adding two more, Erlander said.

Erlander said that the money used to buy Hillcrest came from a member-allocated building fund that was created in the mid-1980s.

“People say, 'How can a union afford to buy a golf club?'” he said. “This has been a long time in the works. It's time to invest in the future.”

Because many of the union's 1,426 members live and work in St. Paul, investing within the city was a logical choice, he added.

Hillcrest-which now has about 200 members-opened in 1921. In 1945, it became a Jewish country club, and it opened to everyone in the 1970s.

Erlander, who hopes to boost the club's membership, said he's confident that some union employees will join the club. The union's board is now overseeing operations at Hillcrest, but the union is in the process of setting up a separate board to run the club.

Regular annual dues run at $4,200 a year, and Erlander said the union has no immediate plans to change them.