Lakewood yeshiva BMG eyes Woodlake golf course for new campus


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Lakewood’s three public golf courses may soon be just one, as developers and a local college eye two others for housing or a campus extension.
Stacey Barchenger, @sbarchenger

The Lakewood yeshiva that is driving the township’s growth may expand to an additional campus at the site of Woodlake Country Club, which closed last summer.

Beth Medrash Govoha, the Orthodox Jewish college, or yeshiva, is under contract to buy the 150-acre golf course at 25 New Hampshire Ave., according to a notice filed with the Ocean County Clerk on March 20. The document signals a sale is in early stages and does not guarantee the land will change hands, according to Ocean County Clerk Scott M. Colabella.

The yeshiva leadership says purchasing the land is an option they are “actively exploring.”

“We are exploring the possibility of developing a campus that could help us accommodate future growth without drawing more commuters up and down the Route 9 corridor that runs through the heart of Lakewood,” Beth Medrash Govoha President Rabbi Aaron Kotler said Monday.

He said it could be months before a final decision is made whether to pursue the project, and declined to disclose a sale price for the land.

The golf course had an assessed value of $8.15 million in 2018, according to tax records.

The scope of the expansion is uncertain, but would likely include student housing, according to Kotler. Beth Medrash Govoha’s existing study halls and student residences are clustered north and west of downtown Lakewood.

A campus at Woodlake would be a 15 minute drive away and in a less densely populated part of town.

“As the Lakewood population grows we all have to think out of the box,” Kotler said. 

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The yeshiva enrolls about 6,600 men in graduate and undergraduate studies of the Talmud, a guiding text of Judaism, and is the largest school of its kind outside of Israel. Founded in 1943 by Kotler’s namesake and grandfather, the school began with just 13 students. 

Now, it’s a powerhouse drawing new residents to New Jersey’s fastest growing municipality, which is amidst a business boom. In the last five years Lakewood added more new office space than all but two other New Jersey municipalities, and last year alone 169 new brick-and-mortar businesses opened in the 25-square-mile township. Learn more in the video at the top of this story.

Matrix Golf & Hospitality, a division of Matrix Development Group, owns the golf course, which was built in 1972. A spokeswoman for Matrix, which is based in Monroe Township, did not respond to a Monday request for comment on the sale.

Woodlake Country Club sits on land zoned to allow single-family homes on lots of at least 20,000 square feet that also permits golf courses, public buildings and adult communities as conditional uses, according to the Lakewood Township master plan, which was passed in 2017.

Of Lakewood’s three public golf courses, two are now facing futures as other uses. Woodlake may become a college campus. The owners of Eagle Ridge Golf Club off Cross Street want to turn it into a 500-duplex neighborhood, with just 9 holes left over.

The proposal to build at Eagle Ridge is controversial and the Lakewood Township Planning Board will continue a public hearing on the proposal during a meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday. The meeting is at the municipal building, 231 Third St.

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Stacey Barchenger: @sbarchenger; 732-427-0114; sbarchenger@gannettnj.com

Read or Share this story: https://www.app.com/story/news/local/communitychange/2019/04/16/lakewood-nj-yeshiva-beth-medrash-govoha-woodlake-golf-sold/3476075002/


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