A nonprofit has been formed to oversee the proposed Bobby Jones Golf Course clubhouse’s renovation into a recital hall with plans to open by the end of next year if the agreement with the city moves forward.

An ordinance that would sublease the historic clubhouse to the newly-formed nonprofit is working its way through Atlanta City Council. The state owns the clubhouse, located at 384 Woodward Way in Atlanta Memorial Park, and leases it to the city.

The historic Bobby Jones clubhouse at 384 Woodward Way. (File/Evelyn Andrews)

A group proposed last year to renovate the now-vacant clubhouse into a recital hall for use by music groups and private lessons.

That group is now an official nonprofit with the name Haynes Manor Recital Hall Foundation of Atlanta. But that won’t be the name of the clubhouse, said Alex Simmons, a resident leading the effort. The name of the foundation comes from the nearby Haynes Manor neighborhood, which was developed by Eugene Haynes, Simmons said.

The foundation hopes to give naming rights to a contributor, which is allowed in the lease agreement, Simmons said. There has been some interest by a few people, but nothing definite, yet, he said.

The lease would last until Oct. 31, 2037 at a cost of $10 per year, according to the ordinance.

The nonprofit is working with contractors to get more detailed plans and cost estimates for the renovation, Simmons said.
After the projected costs are finalized, which is expected to be done by October, the foundation will begin the process to seek donations, he said.

The renovation would begin in November and be completed by the end of 2019.

“If the stars align, the hope is that we would have performances and be using the space by September 2019,” Simmons said.

The renovation plan has not changed since originally presented to the public in October 2017, he said.

A site plan for the main floor of the clubhouse shows the renovation plan to turn the space into a recital hall. (Special)

The renovations would include knocking out walls on the main level of the clubhouse to build a stage and expand seating. A patio and bar would also be built behind the seating area. On the lower level, several rooms would be built to host private lessons and public meetings. A rehearsal studio and lobby would also be created on the lower level.

The proposed terms would also allow the nonprofit to sell liquor and charge for parking during events at the clubhouse. The lease would also require the nonprofit to make “reasonable” efforts to reduce noise heard outside of the clubhouse.

The lease would also require the nonprofit to send half the proceeds from events to the city and put the other half back into the facility. However,

Simmons doesn’t expect the foundation to make much money from the events other than to keep the operation funded.

Underlying the plan is a concern that the historic clubhouse could be demolished as it loses its current golf uses. The formerly city-owned golf course was transferred to the state in a 2016 land swap and is undergoing its own renovation. A new clubhouse is being built as part of the renovation, so the state had no use for the existing clubhouse, and it is now leased to the city for 30 years.

The golf operator moved out of the clubhouse in early November, so it is now vacant. That led some to fear that the clubhouse would be demolished.
Simmons saw an opportunity to ensure the building had a tenant and create a new recital hall in Atlanta, which he believes is needed. Several music companies have expressed interest in the using the space, but the names cannot be released yet because they aren’t formally committed to using it, he said.

“We’ve certainly been talking to a lot of companies,” he said.

The foundation is in the process of finding an executive director, which will not be Simmons, although he will still be involved, he said.
Catherine Spillman, the executive director of the Atlanta Memorial Park Conservancy, which has been helping with the clubhouse plans, said it will continue to be involved through helping create a green space near the clubhouse.

“We’re just excited that this idea has blossomed into what I think is going to be an amazing amenity,” Spillman said. “I look forward to seeing the renovation of the building and bringing it back to its former glory.”