Montgomery’s Standard Club becoming housing development

By Karen Weinrib
Deep South Jewish Voice

Once Montgomery’s outlet for Jews seeking a dining and golfing club, the Standard Club is being reinvented as a single-home and townhouse development open to all.

According to Herb Scheuer, the lead developer of this project, the Standard Club was formed in 1871 as a downtown club during an era when Jews were not admitted to other clubs. The club building was built in 1894 across from the Davis Theater, and members acquired the current lot in February 1913 in order to have a place in the country; the Standard Club maintained the dual
properties for over a decade. In 1929, notable architect Frank Lockwood built the current clubhouse; he is well-known in Montgomery for such buildings as the Frank M. Johnson, Jr. Federal Courthouse.

Scheuer notes that for most of the Standard Club’s history, it maintained approximately 160 to 170 members. Two events occurred, however, that lead to its decline and eventual demise. In the 1980s, Montgomery gained a country club with a much nicer golf course, Wyn Lakes, which drew away many members.

A further drain on the Standard Club’s membership happened when the Montgomery Country Club began to admit Jewish members in the early 1990s.

Although the Standard Club itself had begun admitting non-Jews and saw an increase in membership to about 375, explains Scheuer, many of the new members were less affluent, younger, would not maintain membership for long, and often left with outstanding debts. The Standard Club was forced to close a year ago, although a Board of Directors still remained.

Eventually, a committed group, led by Rick Beringer, approached the Board about buying the property. Today called Lockwood Operating, LLC, in honor of the clubhouse’s famous architect, this development company is very close to opening the reinvented property.

Three of the company’s partners, Scheuer, Beringer, and Wayne Sabel, were members of the Standard Club. The remaining partners are Morgan Bell, Bill Davis, Lee Simms, and Thomas Gallion.

The developers’ plan turns the 64-acre golf course and grounds into 121 detached single-home lots ranging between 60 and 100 feet wide, and approximately 70 townhouse lots. The single-family homes can be between 1,800 and 3,200 square feet on the 60-foot lots, 2,000 and 3,500 feet on the 70-foot lots, 2,200 and 4,200 feet on the 80-foot lots and 2,800 and 5,200
feet on the 100-foot lots. Some people have increased the size of their future homes by buying two lots. The townhouses will be between 1,650 and 3,000 square feet.

Perhaps the Lockwood development’s primary advantage is its location.

Situated in a convenient part of the old Cloverdale neighborhood, the site is close to Huntingdon College, downtown Montgomery, the Montgomery Country Club, and local schools. Although this is still considered a safe neighborhood, the Lockwood development will be fully gated. Scheuer adds that this will be only the second truly gated community in Montgomery.
Furthermore, there will be a brick fence around the property and cameras monitoring the entrance.

Among the planned amenities are a swimming pool, two tennis courts, and a fitness center. Another selling point for the property is that it will be a low-density development featuring about 12 acres of parks and ponds. The developers have created a walking community, with curving roads and brick sidewalks.

In deference to its architectural heritage, the Standard Club clubhouse will eventually be put on the National Register of Historical Places. Ideally, this building, which needs some infrastructure work, will become a club for residents; however, Plan B is for the building to become an event facility.

When word first got out in Montgomery about this proposed development, says Scheuer, about 300 people showed interest in the single-home lots. Lockwood has not yet marketed the townhouses. In order to be fair, the developers threw a party, at which there was a drawing for the lots. Everyone’s name went into a bowl, and names were drawn by chance; those chosen could choose from the available lots. According to Scheuer, everyone felt that this was a fair system. That night, 98 people reserved lots. While about 10 percent dropped out, others quickly bought those properties, whose price had increased since the auction. Currently, there are only 21 single-home lots left out of the original 121.

Although the developers expected that the buyers would primarily be empty-nesters, they “have the full range [of age and family groupings] because we have a range of lot sizes,” explains Scheuer. For example, Morgan Bell, one of the partners, is in his early 30s.

Another notable feature of the Lockwood development is the architectural leeway given the homeowners. While there will be an architectural review of building plans, it will be flexible. As Scheuer elaborates, “We don’t want it to look like a cookie cutter: we want to see a variety of styles and designs.”

The development’s neighbors in Cloverdale are enthusiastic about the new property; in fact, two neighborhood presidents supported the development’s case as it made its way through the City Council. The neighbors “were very excited about it because of the quality of the development, [which is] bound to increase their property values,” explains Scheuer.

Site work on the property should be complete by September or October, at which point buyers can start building their homes. Lot prices for the single-homes range from $61,500 to $102, 850; however, Standard Club members receive a $2,000 deduction.

Since all the partners but Scheuer, who lives nearby, will live on the property, “our reputations are on the line.” He adds, “It is very unfortunate that the Standard Club didn’t survive. But [by building a] first class development, we are doing the next best thing.”