RTCA Loses Bid for Kentucky Property

For months, Race Track Chaplaincy of America officials had envisioned the former Bradshaw horse farm near Georgetown, Ky., as the non-profit organization's future national headquarters, but they realized Aug. 27 it just wasn't meant to be.

At a Georgetown City Council meeting, members voted 7-0 to sell 20 acres of the property to Tracy Hilander, 39, a local resident and owner of G.M. Taylor Seed Co. Hilander made a higher bid when he offered $660,000 for 20 acres, compared with the chaplaincy's bid of $675,000 for 30 acres.

The mansion on the farm, which was formerly owned by the city of Georgetown, was built in 1837 and had been deteriorating in recent years. Hilander plans to restore the buildings on the property, including the Bradshaw home, where he plans to live.

"It became very evident in the city council meeting that based on rising public opinion, there was no way they were going to allow that property to be anything else but a single-family residence," said Dan Fick, corporate secretary for the RTCA and executive vice president and executive director of The Jockey Club.

Partnering with Georgetown College's Equine Scholars Program, the RTCA, which was previously based in California, had hoped to use the Bradshaw home and surrounding buildings for offices and places to conduct conferences throughout the year.

The farmland would have eventually been used to board horses from Georgetown College, as well as provide hands-on education and training for new chaplains. The RTCA had also planned on restoring the property to its original condition, which was stated in a proposal submitted around the same time as Hilander expressed interest.

City Council member Stephen Glass said while Hilander had the higher bid per acre, the council was also partial to his proposal because of his local origin. Glass explained that the property's restriction of housing a single-family residence had been made when a potential buyer had looked at the property a year ago, but the constraint could have possibly been revised by the council if the chaplaincy had won the bid.

"I don't think it was clear in the public's mind exactly what (the RTCA) wanted to do with the property," Glass said. "I'm sorry (the RTCA) wasn't taken into greater consideration--they're a great organization. I hope they'll locate somewhere nearby."

Fick said the organization plans to do just that. "We're going to move to Central Kentucky, we're still going to partner with Georgetown College, and we're still looking for an appropriate facility," he said. "We've got some leads and we're going to continue to pursue them."

Fick said Bill Thomas, real estate agent and president of Blue Grass Farms Chaplaincy, had been looking at some homes for the RTCA in the Georgetown area that could be converted into office space, as well as some retail space in the downtown area. In addition, the RTCA has had inquiries from other farm owners interested in selling their properties.

"That was the beauty of the Bradshaw farm--it took care of our short-term and long-term needs," Fick said. "But our more important focus is our relationship with Georgetown College because what we really need is more chaplains. We need to get the training program up and going as opposed to the horsemanship type stuff--that will come (later)."

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