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A golfer passes behind the Deer Lake Golf Course sign west of Springfield. The course and adjacent 107 acres were sold to Deer Lake Partners LLC, an investor group that has requested a zoning change for part of the property.
A golfer passes behind the Deer Lake Golf Course sign west of Springfield. The course and adjacent 107 acres were sold to Deer Lake Partners LLC, an investor group that has requested a zoning change for part of the property.

Tulsa group buys Deer Lake for $3.5M

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A Springfield-area golf course development that has been on the market for two years has sold, but it’s the water underneath the property that the buyers are most interested in.

Deer Lake Golf Course, its 80-acre subdivision and an adjacent 107 acres of undeveloped land sold March 26 to Tulsa, Okla.-based Deer Lake Partners LLC, according to buyer’s representative Mike Mellinger of Mellinger Commercial LLC.

Deer Lake Properties LLC and Deer Lake Golf Course LLC sold the development for $3.5 million, said Mike Sitton, a Tulsa, Okla.-based partner of Deer Lake Partners and co-founder of Joplin’s Sitton Motor Lines, which closed late last year. The property was listed by R.B. Murray Co. for $3.75 million, said seller’s agent David Murray.

Under the management of Tulsa developer and P&H Properties owner Robert Phillips, Deer Lake Partners is seeking Greene County approval to develop an industrial park on the 107 acres and build a water-bottling facility as the lead tenant. The water would be drawn from the 1,600-foot on-site well, the main attraction in this deal.

“I love the golf course, but that water’s what we wanted,” Sitton said.

Sitton’s interest with the well dates back to a 1991 phone call with a family friend of the Deer Lake organizers who was shopping the development on their behalf.

“They called me, that’s when I was living in Joplin,” Sitton said, adding that the sales pitch prompted his visit to the property.

The well is what Sitton remembered when Mellinger called him earlier this year and told him the course was for sale. Organizers of Deer Lake Properties and Deer Lake Golf Course are James F. Wiley III, of Philadelphia; Marjorie Wiley, of Springfield; and Jim and Pam Spering, of Suison, Calif., according to corporation filings on record with the Missouri secretary of state’s office.

To put the well to greater use, Sitton said a joint venture is in the works between Deer Lake Partners and Naturally Iowa Inc. (Nasdaq: NLIA), a publicly traded dairy and milk bottling plant based in Clarinda, Iowa. The company uses bottles made of environmentally friendly corn-based plastic rather than oil-based plastic, Sitton said.

Naturally Iowa’s water bottler – Green Bottle Spring Water – would be among the first residents in the industrial park and would bottle water from the well should the rezoning request go through, Sitton said.

The joint venture is scheduled to be announced at an upcoming Naturally Iowa shareholders’ meeting.

Sitton said contracts with other industrial park tenants including food, beverage, medical, and heat and air companies, and a recycling equipment manufacturer are pending rezoning approval.

Deer Lake Partners has requested that the Greene County Planning Board rezone the 107 undeveloped acres to commercial from residential zoning. The property would be developed as light industrial.

However, the plan is not a sure bet with the county board, which considered the request at its June 15 meeting.

“It was slated to be developed as residential,” said Kent Morris, the county’s planning and zoning director and the board’s executive secretary. “This gentleman bought the property and wants to turn it into an industrial park similar to (Partnership Industrial Center) West with office and light industry uses, maybe some commercial.”

Morris said board members expressed concern about the new demands the water bottler would place on the well, and the request was tabled for a month, allowing the board to more closely review the well and a traffic study of the area.

The rezoning could be voted on at the board’s next meeting July 28.

Meanwhile, Deer Lake South, the development’s subdivision comprising 42 finished residential lots and a 3.66-acre tract for a total of 83 acres south of Interstate 44, is already in the hands of another party. After the buy, Mellinger said Deer Lake Partners allocated the land to Silverhorn Holdings LLC, which sold it June 14 to Nixa-based Pegasus Investments LLC, owned by Rick Gregg. Attempts to contact Gregg were unsuccessful.

Noel Spering, operating general manager of the course, said that golf business would continue as usual.

“We are continuing to run the golf course as a business,” Spering said. “We lease it back from (Deer Lake Partners).”

The course’s proximity to Springfield-Branson National Airport and the Interstate 44-Highway 266 interchange were two reasons for the sale, according to Spering and Murray. The development spans 255 acres north of Interstate 44.

“It’s unusual to have that much property assembled so close to a major interchange,” Murray said.

Deer Lake Partners manager Phillips is no stranger to the area. His P&H Properties developed Branson Meadows, a 300-acre mixed-use development between Gretna Road and Shepherd of the Hills, according to www.bransonmeadowsdev.com. The development borders Factory Outlet Mall and is home to Branson Mill Craft Village and The Shoppes at Branson Mill.[[In-content Ad]]

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