Healdsburg’s storied Villa Chanticleer is on the verge of being privatized in an attempt to end years of losses incurred by the city.
The City Council at 6 p.m. Monday is scheduled to consider leasing it to an outside operator to manage events and still offer preferred pricing for residents and local nonprofit groups.
The Villa has been run by the city for more than a half-century, but losses averaging $100,000 annually in recent years prompted a search for a private entity to take it over.
Tayman Park Golf Group, the same company that has managed the city’s golf course for 15 years, has applied to take over the hillside facility and is being recommended for approval by city staff.
The company also operates publicly-owned golf courses and clubhouses in Ukiah, San Rafael and at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds.
“It’s exciting for us to work with a private company to maximize revenue while still providing a great service to our community,” Assistant City Manager David Mickaelian said Friday.
“I think it’s really positive for the city and really positive for the Villa,” said Mayor Jim Wood. “It’s such an important part of the community.”
Located near the top of Fitch Mountain, the Villa Chanticleer has been the venue for school proms and celebrations, fundraisers, marriages and memorials.
The 6,000-square-foot facility was established as an exclusive French family resort until it was taken over by gamblers in the 1940s. After sitting empty for years, the city acquired it in the late 1950s for use as a community center and park.
Healdsburg previously was able to subsidize Villa Chanticleer with redevelopment money, but the state did away with those programs in 2012.
Several years ago the city formed a subcommittee to identify needed improvements and brainstorm ways to increase revenue.
One idea that emerged was for a private operator who could host multiple, concurrent facility rentals, run a catering business out of the Villa kitchen, offer on-site food and beverage sales and service, and rent or lease out the cabins on the property.
The subcommittee also determined a private entity would have greater flexibility to set aside some revenue for capital improvements and deferred maintenance.
“Sometimes government doesn’t operate things as efficiently as you like to see. We’re not in the event-center business,” Wood said Friday.
Under the contract proposal being considered by the City Council, the Tayman Group would lease the facility for five years with options to extend it for three successive five-year terms.
The lessee gets to keep all revenues up to $300,000 and be responsible for maintenance. But for revenues from $300,000 to $530,000, 70 percent would go into a separate capital improvement account administered by the city.
The operator would also provide a resident discount of 10 percent to 30 percent off the regular facility rental fee and a discount of 50 percent to 70 percent for resident nonprofit groups.
The American Legion would continue to have a bar and liquor license there, but curtail its activities to the Villa annex. The Tayman Park Golf Group would submit an application for a separate liquor license for the main facility.
James Stewart, president of Tayman Group, was traveling and unavailable to comment Friday on his company’s plans for the Villa Chanticleer.
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