The giant financial services company, MetLife, announced today that it has agreed to purchase the troubled Reynolds Plantation in northern Georgia. The acquisition, according to the company whose official press release features a smiling Snoopy, includes the on-site Ritz Carlton Lodge, the community’s six golf courses, four marinas and almost 5,000 undeveloped properties, many of them located on the golf courses or the adjacent Lake Oconee. Ritz Carlton, which had a long-term agreement with former owners the Reynolds family, will continue to manage the hotel.
MetLife will turn management of the property over to Daniel Corporation, a firm it has worked with for 25 years on commercial projects in the Atlanta area. Daniel Corp has 20 years experience operating golf communities and resorts, including its newest development, Ross Bridge, in Birmingham, AL. Ross Bridge features a four-star hotel and a Robert Trent Jones layout (part of Alabama’s famed R.T. Jones Golf Trail).
On the face of it, things could hardly have worked out better for residents and property owners at Reynolds. Deep pockets do not come deeper than MetLife’s, and the company has a solid reputation for well-timed investments. In New York City, for example, MetLife sold the immense Stuyvesant Town community for more than $5 billion just a couple of years before the market tanked. The new owners, Tishman Speyer, later lost the community to bankruptcy.
Of course, the devil is in the details, and coming weeks will test the new owners’ ability to carve out a vision for Reynolds that, owners hope, does not include assessments or higher fees. If any company can figure out a reasonable business model for the strapped golf community, MetLife should be able to.