Frederick Curtis of Princeton stands in the crowd after placing the winning $3.4 million bid to purchase the Shaker Hills Golf Course on the Ayer/Harvard
Frederick Curtis of Princeton stands in the crowd after placing the winning $3.4 million bid to purchase the Shaker Hills Golf Course on the Ayer/Harvard town line at auction on April 12. (Nashoba Publishing/Mary Arata)

AYER/HARVARD - A Princeton real estate developer made the winning $3.4 million bid Thursday morning during the foreclosure auction of the Shaker Hills Golf Course.

Frederick Curtis spoke briefly to reporters after the dust settled. The auction was called by Middlesex Savings Bank and conducted by Daniel McLaughlin & Co. of Boston.

Curtis was one of 14 bidders qualified to partake in the auction. The entry ticket was a $50,000 certified check with the closing to occur within the next 45 days.

Curtis promised more information later, stating the business plan for the new management of the 18-hole golf course was still in the works.

However, Curtis said that the course would reopen at some point for golf.

Curtis did not disclose whether the course would remain public or become a private course. It's also not clear if the facility which straddles the Ayer and Harvard town lines would remain as is or undergo any other development.

Asked why he purchased Shaker Hills without having any personal prior golf course management experience, Curtis said simply it was a 'dream come true" to own a course, adding "I think it's a spectacular property."

Curtis said that he has played Shaker Hills before, though he typically plays out of the Worcester Country Club. "I'm a low, single-digit handicap," said Curtis about his own game.

Curtis laughed when asked why he didn't' immediately get into the mix on the initial bidding. "That was slow motion.


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" An opening bid of $500,000 was dismissed by auctioneer Daniel McLaughlin, "How about a realistic opening offer - two and a half million?"

The sum was initially met with silence, but on went the auctioneer's banter. McLaughlin backed down in half million dollar increments until interest sparked at $1.5 million, and a mini bidding war began between three parties.

Curtis initially hung back, but drove the price up to the $3.4 million winning bid. McLaughlin looked for more from the crowd. "It's only money," McLaughlin said before closing the auction on Curtis' winning bid

Frederick J. Curtis Jr. is a name associated with several corporations according to the Secretary of State's Corporations Division database. Curtis appears as an officer or director in several entities, including D&A Industries Realty Corp, which reports its industry as 'rentals.' Curtis is also an official with M&F Industries, which is self-identified as a 'patent holding company.' And Curtis' name is linked to the Fred III Industries Business Trust, formerly known as Curtis Tractor Cab Co., which identified its business as 'manufacturing.'

Curtis is also listed as the manager for the TrunkUp and Micky's Luck real estate development corporations of Princeton, as well as the Sandpit One vehicle investment and leasing corporation of Princeton.

Presuming the closing occurs within the next 45 days as per the auction terms, outstanding balances due to the towns of Ayer and Harvard would likely be satisfied at closing.

As of April 12, the Harvard was owed $24,233.22 in back taxes on the three parcels of land that fall within Harvard, according to Harvard Tax Collector Debbie Nutter. As of March 30, the town of Ayer was owed a total of $50,885.23 for Fiscal Year 2011 and another $53,042.19 for Fiscal Year 2012 between taxes, water and sewer balances due, according to Ayer Tax Collector John Canney.

The Ayer Board of Selectmen controls the all-liquor license and a common victualler's for the club house, pub and function hall. The Harvard Board of Selectmen controls the serving of all alcoholic beverages out on the course. Both towns had held off on issuing new licenses for the new year due to the balances due the respective towns.

Shaker Hills Golf Club was the record owner of the one 5.33 acre parcel of land that lies in Ayer. The land is assessed at $321,000 while the clubhouse and other structures are valued at $1.53 million dollars for a total of $1.85 million in assessed Ayer property.

In Harvard, title to three properties was held in the name of Woodland Company at 146 Shaker Road in Harvard. There's an 8.91-acre parcel valued at $95,100; a 39-acre parcel assessed at $283,300; and a 115.48-acre parcel assessed at $813,300. All three parcels are vacant and have no taxable structures upon them. Combined together, there are 163.41-acres of land in Harvard for a combined total valuation of $1.19 million dollars.

Follow Mary Arata at Twitter.com/maryearata.