By ROD LEE
The breaking news coming out of the town of Sutton during the week of January 9th was the sale of Pleasant Valley Country Club from the Magill family to partners Michael O’Brien and Jay Kunkel for $4.1 million.
This overshadowed a revelation by Mr. O’Brien at around the same time of the latest steps he is taking as principal of Galaxy Development LLC to expand Pleasant Valley Crossing, just a few miles away on the eastbound side of Rt. 146.
Above, an aerial view of the golf course at Pleasant Valley Country Club. The club was recently purchased by Michael O’Brien and Jay Kunkel. Below, UniBank was one of the first retailers to sign on as a tenant of Pleasant Valley Crossing.
Asked what’s new with the complex, which has witnessed steady growth since its inception with a Market 32 and UniBank as major components, Mr. O’Brien said “there is an urgent care in planning right now for the parcel between Starbucks and the car wash. We don’t own that. We continue to speak with large retail tenants. We need an ‘anchor’ to kick [the next phase] off but nothing yet unfortunately.”
The addition of an Urgent Care would add another important piece to the mix of businesses now operating at Pleasant Valley Crossing. It would come as no surprise to people who have followed Mr. O’Brien’s work as a commercial property owner and development, which has been extensive throughout the region. Galaxy has completed projects totaling $300 million and 500,000 square feet in the last ten years.
Such national name enterprises as Price Chopper, Walgreens, Chili’s, Kohl’s, Advance Auto, Tractor Supply, Panera Bread, Bank of America, Domino’s, Five Guys, Great Clips, Planet Fitness and Verizon “have been the beneficiaries of projects built by Galaxy from the ground up,” Mr. O’Brien has pointed out.
The 57,000-square-foot Market 32 at Pleasant Valley Crossing opened in October of 2015 and was quickly followed by the arrival of Five Guys, Verizon, Starbucks, UniBank and Q-Nails.
Other stores have since set up shop at Pleasant Valley Crossing, making the complex second only to The Shoppes at Blackstone Valley in Millbury as a prime retail destination on the highway connecting Worcester and Providence.
With the acquisition of Pleasant Valley Country Club, Mr. O’Brien and Mr. Kunkel are investing in an eighteen-hole golf course and banquet facility that has a storied history in the Blackstone Valley. “PV” has hosted thirty-two PGA Tour events and thirteen LPGA Tour events, the most recent being an LPGA Tour stop in 1999. Such illustrious golfing personalities as Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Phil Mickelson and Kathy Whitworth have played there.
Mr. O’Brien and Mr. Kunkel have expressed a determination to restore PV to its former glory, but they have made no commitment to trying to attract another professional tournament to the club. Their immediate focus is to improve the course and the clubhouse.
Mr. Kunkel has been described as an accomplished golfer and he was a member of Pleasant Valley for fifteen years before joining Quinnatisset CC in Thompson, Connecticut.
In that sense he would appear to be a perfect successor as an owner of the club to John Magill Sr., who also belonged to PV for many years before building Highfields Golf and Country Club in Grafton in 2002. Mr. Magill bought PV from Bank of New England at a foreclosure auction at the club in November of 2010 for $5 million. Mr. Magill died in 2012. His son Jay Magill and Jay Magill’s daughter Beth Shropshire managed PV and Highfields.
Pleasant Valley Country Club has long been a go-to facility for the Blackstone Valley Chamber of Commerce, particularly for the Chamber’s annual meeting; it has also been a popular choice for weddings with its manicured, scenic grounds and spacious ballroom.