American golf and resort developer Herb Kohler has bought the historic Hamilton Hall in St Andrews. Kohler’s UK subsidiary already owns the Old Course Hotel and the Duke’s golf course in the town.
Kohler emerged as the successful bidder after a competitive auction which also included an offer by regular GCA contributor Richard Wax, who envisaged redeveloping the building as a ‘global golf hub’. It is not yet clear what Kohler plans for Hamilton Hall, although he has committed to a process of public consultation aimed at creating a unique and economically viable product that will enhance St Andrews’ offering as the world's premier golf destination.
“We look forward to gathering input from the townspeople and the Fife Council as to what the name of the building should be along with its future use,” said Kohler. Possibilities include apartments, though given the price paid for the building, rumoured to be in the region of £11m, and the likely refurbishment costs, any such units will need to sell at a very high price in order to secure a return for the developer.
Hamilton Hall, which originally opened as a hotel in 1895, is a 45,000 sq ft building and overlooks the eighteenth hole on the Old Course. Empty since 2005, when it was sold by the University of St Andrews to developer Wasserman Capital – which later went bust, necessitating the property’s resale – the interior is now described as ‘little more than rubble’.
Kohler added: “Our priority is to complete the preservation of Hamilton Hall and return it to a viable and prominent position in St Andrews for generations to come. Our company has long demonstrated the passion and ability it takes to restore historic buildings back to great distinction.”