One of the choicest parcels of real estate in Delaware is now off the market and in local hands, much to the delight of neighbors and community leaders.
The DuPont Company (a subsidiary of the newly formed DowDuPont) announced today that investors Ben duPont and Don Wirth have agreed to purchase the DuPont Country Club, a historic, sprawling 550 acre property in Rockland at the apron of the Brandywine Valley. The company-owned site had been officially put up for sale in 2017.
DuPont and Wirth have vowed to continue to operate DuPont CC as a family-focused club, with plans for major new investments in club facilities of at least $18 million. Upgrades will include the addition of a pool and a full-scale fitness facility, substantial improvements to the golf and tennis facilities, enhanced dining options and expanded youth sports offerings.
“We see this as a unique opportunity to protect the legacy of the DuPont Country Club and continue the 98-year history of this important Delaware tradition and community asset,” said duPont. “Our plan is to build on the traditions of the club by creating a state-of-the-art, affordable and family-focused club for the Greater Wilmington community.”
The new owners each have significant ties to the company and the club. The son of former Governor Pete duPont, Ben duPont grew up in a home a few hundred yards down Rockland Road and he worked at the industrial giant founded by his family earlier in his career. DuPont, a partner with the investment firm Chartline Capital Partners, also lived for a time in his grandfather’s home, Brantwyn, now a club facility used for weddings and other receptions.
Wirth is a former DuPont executive and current club member, and his son Rob Wirth runs the club’s successful tennis operations.
The DuPont company, Wirth and du Pont have said the transition in ownership will be seamless for club members. All current employees at the DuPont Country Club have been offered positions to remain employed by the new owners. Dan Bradway will continue in his role as the Club’s General Manager and will be responsible for day-to-day operations.
A key initial goal for the new owners will be recruiting new members to the private club, which has seen a drop in membership to below 2000 from years past when the rolls topped 5000. The club features three 18-hole golf courses and 25 tennis courts (including 6 indoor) in addition to the 113,000-square foot clubhouse.
“This announcement is the best possible outcome I could have imagined,” said State Senator Greg Lavelle, who lives in and represents the neighborhood surrounding the club. “Ben and Don’s commitment to invest in the club to make it even more family friendly seems like a sure win for all. Maintaining the surrounding land for use as a golfing facility is what the community wished for and is what I and others have been working, encouraging and hoping would happen.”
Financing for the acquisition are being provided by M&T Bank. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.