An investment group led by George E. Norcross III and Ira Lubert announced Saturday it would bid on the bankrupt Woodcrest Country Club, adding a new player to the mix of potential owners of the Cherry Hill golf course.
An auction for the club, which filed for bankruptcy last May and did not open this year, is set for Monday. Three other bidders - Camden County, the Union League of Philadelphia, and a Marlton real estate group - are expected to attend, said club trustee Bonnie Glantz Fatell.
The bid from the Norcross-Lubert group comes a day after Cherry Hill Township Council voted to team with Camden County to bid for the 155-acre property in an effort to preserve it as open space.
The newest bidders said they would maintain the property as a golf course, which would be privately funded.
"If successful in our bid, we plan to immediately sit down with neighbors and community leaders here and work together to restore Woodcrest to its former stature and prominence," Norcross said in a statement Saturday.
Reached by phone, he declined to comment further, citing Monday's auction.
Norcross, an insurance executive, is co-managing partner and director of Interstate General Media, owner of The Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News, and Philly.com. A Democratic fund-raiser and political power broker in South Jersey, Norcross chairs the board of the Cooper Health System and Cooper University Hospital in Camden.
Lubert is chairman of the private-equity firms Independence Capital Partners and Lubert-Adler Partners L.P.
The county would welcome Norcross ownership, given his group's stated goals, spokesman Dan Keashen said. "It definitely leads to us getting closer to our goal for the property," he said.
"Our overall objectives are to make sure that Woodcrest itself remains a golf course or stays as a green space or an open-space parcel," Keashen said.
The land has become a hot-button issue with some residents who fear it could be developed into commercial property, which would exacerbate traffic problems in the area.
It is zoned for institutional purposes - such as a golf course or medical campus - and any change would need council approval, which Mayor Chuck Cahn has said he would not support.
The county has declined to say how much money it will offer in its bid, but it said $11 million was available in its open-space fund. The township voted to contribute up to $960,000 toward the bid.
The real estate concern First Montgomery Group has already entered into a tentative agreement with the trustee to buy the property for $6.25 million. The bidders must offer a minimum of $6.5 million for the property under terms set by the club's trustee.