Neil Amin, through his Riversbend Land LLC entity, has put 181 acres into a conservation easement held by the Capital Region Land Conservancy, a nonprofit land preservation group. That deal closed at the end of December.
Amin, president and CEO of Shamin Hotels, the Richmond region’s largest hotel operator, will donate that land to a Hanover County builder who plans to plant trees on much of the property.
An additional 40 acres, which includes the clubhouse and one of the fairways, also was given to the same Hanover builder, who plans to renovate the clubhouse for an event space and restaurant and to possibly sell six to eight lots for homes.
The 18-hole golf course, which has more than a mile of property fronting the James River with views of Interstate 295’s Varina-Enon Bridge, has not operated for about three years.
The conservation easement, which includes most of the former golf course and some additional wetlands area, provides for public access to the property. It also ensures that the land is not developed into dozens of more homes even if the landowners change, the land conservancy organization said.
“Our main objective with the easement that’s in place is that the homeowners are protected,” said Amin, who grew up in the River’s Bend residential community where his parents bought a home in 1991 and still live today. “These are people’s homes who have lived there for decades. We decided to do the right thing for them.”
The River’s Bend golf course snakes through the upscale residential development. The golf course property had the zoning rights to be subdivided for an additional nearly 100 homes, which would have meant existing homeowners could have had views of another house from their backyards instead of a golf course, Amin said.
“People bought homes there thinking they were living on a golf course and not living adjacent to more homes,” Amin said.
River’s Bend Redevelopment LLC will acquire the 181 acres that is under the conservation easement — 133 acres from the golf course property and 48 acres of additional wetlands. The noncash transaction should take place in the next 30 days, Amin said.
About 40 acres of the original 177-acre golf course property, which includes the clubhouse, a maintenance area and one of the fairways, was not part of the easement deal. That land also was given to River’s Bend Redevelopment in another noncash deal that took place at the end of December, Amin said.
“What we are doing with the land is environmental enhancement because it is along the James River,” said David Martin, a Hanover homebuilder who is behind River’s Bend Redevelopment.
Pine trees will be planted on most of the property under the conservation easement, he said. Planting should begin in March. Doing so will enable him to receive nutrient credits that he can then sell to developers when they do projects elsewhere.
Martin is negotiating with a wedding/special events operator to take over the clubhouse for events and to operate a restaurant there. Renovation of the building should begin in the next couple of weeks.
About 31 acres of upper fairways near homes along Sarazen Lane, Middlecoff Drive and Villas Drive were not part of the easement deal. Martin is planning to sell six to eight lots there for homes.
Under the current zoning, he could put 20 lots on one parcel and 15 lots on another parcel, but he said he wants to preserve as much of the open space as possible. Pine trees will be planted on land that does not get sold for homesites, he said.
One residence can be built on the land under the conservation easement, according to the agreement. That property, Martin said, has about a mile of river frontage. “It is a pretty valuable lot. I’m not sure what we will do with it. We might sell it.”
Putting the property under a conservation easement allows for it to be maintained as open space and for public uses, said Parker Agelasto, the Capital Region Land Conservancy’s executive director who is also a Richmond City Council member.