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Rookery North golf course sold, future undecided

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The Rookery North golf course has been sold for $3.8 million, with a potential commercial use in mind for taking a small portion of the property. | DBT PHOTO BY KATIE TABELING

MILFORD — The Rookery North golf course has been sold, and Milford city officials say there are tentative plans to reopen a piece of the land as a commercial operation.

The 18-hole golf course located at 6152 S. Rehoboth Blvd. in Milford was sold for $3.8 million to Oak Forest Park LLC on Dec. 27, according to Sussex County land records. According to state records, that limited liability company is managed by Timothy S. Johnson, of Johnson Companies in Smyrna.

Johnson has told the Milford Live that he intends to “change the zoning,” but will keep the 18-hole golf course and re-open the clubhouse as a restaurant.

Milford city officials have been in tentative discussions with the new owners about subdividing a portion of the property and rezoning that parcel for commercial use. The Rookery North, which has been closed since 2020, is currently zoned single-family residential. By right, that allows for a housing subdivision on the 156-acre golf course, but also parkland, athletic fields, golf courses and farms.

Outside the potential subdivision, Milford Economic Development and Community Engagement Coordinator Sara Bluhm said there are no plans at this time to redevelop the land and no preliminary plans have been filed with the city.

“The city is pleased for a private developer to buy this land and keep it open space,” Bluhm told the DBT. “We have a goal to keep open space, whether it’s an outdoor park or other recreation options for our residents, be it through public or private means.”

The Rookery North opened in 2011 as the second location of the Milton golf club The Rookery. Built in 1957, it was known as the Shawnee Country Club and was a mainstay in the community. However, the golf course never turned a profit in the nine years under Rookery management and the five years under its ownership, according to the Delaware State News.

Milford officials investigated buying the shuttered golf course, but ultimately did not when terms could not be reached. Instead, the city bought 40 acres of land next to the property for a park and trail system in 2021.

Rep. Bryan Shupe (R-Milford) announced the sale via his Facebook page on Thursday, noting that he connected the new owner with a Delaware restaurant owner “that has been interested in the Milford area for a number of years.”

“I am excited to see this property stay a golf course, will work to encourage a partnership like a restaurant that can enhance the experience and will work alongside the city to ensure we create the public park next door to begin our new trail system,” Shupe wrote.

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