3M to close Tartan Park in December

An end of an era looms for the 452-acre Tartan Park recreational area in Lake Elmo. 

3M Co. has owned the scenic property since 1958 and first opened the 27-hole golf course to its employees in 1963.

To help bring in more revenue 3M decided to expand the private golf course's admission to the public in 2012, but it appears the plan fell short of expectations.

Use falls as upkeep rises

3M spokesperson Lori Anderson told the Review Thursday the company would close the golf course, along with the rest of the park’s facilities, Dec. 18.

“Continuing operations are no longer viable due to declining use at Tartan along with significant need for capital investments,” she said.

Anderson said Tartan is in need of expensive updates to its roadways, heating and cooling systems and the pumping stations used to irrigate the course.

In addition to the championship golf course, Tartan Park's outdoor amenities include 12 tennis courts, four lighted softball fields, bocce ball courts, an archery range, four picnic pavilions, and a landscaped gazebo.

The site also has a clubhouse/event venue marketed as a conference center and wedding destination, with events managed and catered by Prom Management. The Prom company, headquartered in Oakdale and owned by brothers Tom and Bill Given, also provides concessions, event and golf course management for St. Paul's Phalen Golf Course.

'Significant interest' in site

Lake Elmo City Administrator Dean Zuleger said his office was flooded with calls from former 3M executives Thursday, many of whom said they hope 3M can protect as much of undeveloped property as possible to maintain open space.

The park was designated as a certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary for wildlife in 1999, one of only 900 courses in the world to hold that honor.

He said there has been significant interest among developers in purchasing the property from 3M over the past few years.

“I was happy to hear today that they are looking at conservation as an option,” Zuleger said.

Anderson said the company is not sure what they will do with the property yet, but said 3M is looking at several options.

“We are engaged in discussions with conservation-based agencies and other interested parties concerning the future use of the site.”

Tartan Park’s land has become extremely valuable as suburban housing development continues to creep eastward. New municipal water and sewer lines run along the western boundary of the property, which new homes or businesses could easily feed into.

Zuleger said property that is being served with municipal sewer and water a 1/4-mile away is being assessed at $30,000 per acre.

Based on that number, he said, the land could easily be worth $13 million, or about half of that without municipal sewer and water connections.

-- Joshua Nielsen


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