Fort’s Suneagles Golf Club Sold

August 17, 2017
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Suneagles Golf Course’s Gibbs Hall, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, will get a $3.25 million makeover from its new owner. Photo by L. Kolnoski

By Laura D.C. Kolnoski |

EATONTOWN – Fort Monmouth’s historic Gibbs Hall banquet center and the 18-hole A.W. Tillinghast-designed golf course that surrounds it have been purchased by Martelli Development Group, which has agreed to maintain it as a golf course for the next 40 years.

The purchase by Salvatore Martelli, who heads Martelli Development and Martelli Signature Homes of Little Silver, was unanimously approved by the Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority (FMERA) at its Aug. 2 meeting. Martelli will pay $5 million for the 171-acre property off Tinton Avenue, and renovate Gibbs Hall into “a first class banquet facility,” make capital upgrades to the golf course, demolish the existing, vacant 42-unit Megill military housing units on the site, and construct 75 new residential units. Sixty of the new units will be “luxury condominium townhomes” with the other 15 slated for affordable rental apartments. The projected cost of improvements is $29 million, according to FMERA officials.

Linx Golf Management has been operating the course, first opened in 1926, for FMERA in recent years. Martelli proposes to contract with Linx to continue to operate and improve the course. The property also includes Joe’s Sports Bar and three ancillary associated structures. Martelli Development prevailed over three other offers for the site, receiving the highest score from a FMERA evaluation team. It also offered the highest price.

Martelli has over 25 years experience in custom home building and commercial development in New Jersey, New York, California, Florida and Costa Rica. At Suneagles, the firm will seek to obtain all required permits and approvals within one year, with a possible extension of six months. The project should begin within 90 days of receipt of permits and approvals, with completion projected within 36 months thereafter. The golf course improvements are estimated at $3 million, with an additional $3.25 million slated for improvements to Gibbs Hall. Martelli will operate and maintain the golf course for the balance of the current golfing season under the existing rate schedule, and has agreed to improve the course’s landscaping and aesthetics prior to closing. Current memberships will be honored.

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“I see this as a real win for Eatontown and a great achievement,” said Mayor Dennis Connolly, a voting FMERA member. Monmouth County Freeholder Director Lillian Burry, owner of Colts Neck Realty and the county’s FMERA representative added, “I’m familiar with this developer. He has built a number of homes in Colts Neck and is quite reputable.”

Gibbs Hall is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, while a portion of the golf course is subject to an archeological restriction that protects Native American artifacts. The FMERA agreement stipulates that Martelli employ a minimum of 34 permanent full and part-time workers at Gibbs Hall and the sports bar, and 39 permanent full and part-time workers at the golf course by completion, or pay a penalty of $1,500 for each permanent position not filled. Similar employment clauses are standard with all purchases at the former U.S. Army base through FMERA.

A proposal to purchase Fort Monmouth’s Bowling Center is currently being evaluated by the Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority. Further action on the purchase is expected next month. Photo courtesy FMERA

Bowling Center

One bid was received in July for the fort’s former Bowling Center, a 17,600 square-foot facility with 20 bowling lanes and 107 parking spaces on 2.7 acres along the Avenue of Memories (Route 537) in Eatontown. An evaluation committee of FMERA staff members is currently reviewing the proposal and expects to present a recommendation at the authority’s September meeting.

The facility is described as “state-of-the-art” with a pro shop, lounge area, stocked parts, a repair shop and Brunswick 2000 equipment. It has a fully-equipped kitchen with a pizza oven, grill and more. The site is located in the designated Route 35 Lifestyle/Tech Center development district. The minimum bid price was set at $1.3 million.

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This article was first published in the August 10-17, 2017 print edition of The Two River Times.


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