This week the Mirror had a chance to sit down and chat with Matt Hagler and Bobby Masters of Preserve Communities to discuss the future of Bay Creek.
For several years, the community has been languishing under the ownership of Sinclair Broadcasting, whose business is actually radio and television, not real estate management. The sport of golf is in a deep decline, where more courses are closing than new ones opening.
“We don’t see a future where the main focus is just a golfing community,” said Bobby Masters.
Sinclair was bleeding out over $3 million dollars a year, yet the maintenance of both courses was still suffering. One of the first orders of business is to shorten the course by eliminating nine holes of the Nicklaus course. According to Matt Hagler, this will help alleviate some of the costs, but more importantly, it will open up more of the beachfront for development of other activities.
World-class golf at Bay Creek will always be a big part the picture, but other life-style programming such as trails and hiking, biking, and a much more active beach scene that will leverage and interact with Bay on a much more intimate level are all part of the design.
The area near the coves will be completely re-imagined. So far, they have modeled a gorgeous beach club that will offer indoor and outdoor dining, with open air Havana doors that can be opened on more temperate days. “We call it Shanty chic,” said Bobby Masters. “We really love the Shanty, so we want to incorporate a lot of that feel.” The model is a work in progress that the group is still very actively refining. Matt Hagler told the Mirror that due to his background in food and hospitality, he is excited to bring new and interesting styles of cuisine to the club.
According to Matt Hagler, one of the main goals is to diversify the population, hopefully attracting a more multi-generational set of clientele. Hagler told the Mirror that they want to leverage the coves of the beach as places to offer child friendly programming, an adult section, as well as being a hub for water based activities such as kayaking and canoeing. As and event destination, and with more variety in programming offerings, the hope is to attract younger families, as well as destination vacationers.
“The natural beauty of the Eastern Shore and Cape Charles is something we want to preserve and tie altogether,” Hagler said. “But what we really want, is that when the family and grand kids are asked about where they want to go for vacation, Bay Creek will be the first choice because, ‘Nana lives in the coolest place’.”
The Mirror asked about the issue of workforce development.
Hagler told the Mirror, “We’ve had that challenge before in other places like southern Georgia…I come from a hospitality background, so training and world-class customer service is something we take seriously. The good thing is we already a great staff that are eager to learn and take their careers to the next level.” Building out and recruiting additional staff is on the upcoming agenda.
Another top priority is to pave and complete a golf cart path from Bay Creek into town. The path will run along the connector road, past the Rosenwald School and finally connect at Peach Street. “This is something that should have happened earlier, but it is something we want to get done right away, ” Masters said.
When asked about the history of Bay Creek, mainly the Annexation Agreement between the town and county, Masters told the Mirror that they did due diligence before purchasing the property. Preserve plans to build out as many remaining lots as possible, and is actively working the contractors to get that done. “We understand this is part of our partnership with the town, and as neighbors…when the wastewater plant needs expansion, we will be part of it,” Masters said.
Preserve is partnering with IMI Worldwide Properties on the upcoming projects, and will include several million dollars for advertising and promotion. There are also rumors that the gates will be coming down–a kind of symbolic gesture of making Bay Creek less of a gated community and more connected to historic Cape Charles.
The Mirror told the group, “This is really exciting, after several years of watching Bay Creek go downhill, this re-thinking and re-structuring is a breath of fresh air. It reminds me of how excited we were when Bay Creek opened. Good luck.”