Oakwood Park may be under new ownership soon. Ian Rolland, receiver for the property, said he is currently working out a purchase agreement with Dr. J. Rex Parent of Fort Wayne.
Parent, an ophthalmologist, already owns property on Lake Wawasee, and plans on reopening the hotel and restaurant to the public by next summer. Roland said the restaurant would have a liquor license.
Founded in 1893, Oakwood Park was built as a Christian camp for spiritual renewal and recreation. Located on 42 acres on the shores of Lake Wawasee, Oakwood Christian Retreat & Conference Center was owned and operated by an independent nonprofit, non-denominational Christian organization called the Oakwood Foundation.
Closed in 2008, the Oakwood Inn near Syracuse has been on the market since 2010, but it was only in May that a court ruling opened up the possibilities for offers that do not have to uphold the religious covenants and ideals for which the property was originally intended.
According to a report filed in Kosciusko Superior Court on April 20, over the past two years Rolland worked with the town board to get the property annexed to Syracuse and maintained the property.
Buckingham Properties had been working on closing a deal on the property, but terminated it. In an April 9 letter to Rolland, Buckingham said:
"The degree of difficulty and risk associated with this endeavor has been significant from the outset ... due to lack of support and, ironically, determined opposition, the risk of the venture grew to overwhelm the likelihood of success."
On May 18, Rolland appeared in Kosciusko Superior Court where Judge Duane G. Huffer granted permission for him to look for new offers that do not have to uphold the previous religious restrictions.
Tuesday morning Roland said that he is currently working on a purchase agreement with Parent and hopes to have that finished soon. Once the purchase agreement is complete the parties will need to appear in court to get approval from the judge on the sale.
Rolland said that the Wawasee Area Conservancy Foundation (WACF), which had been concerned about Buckingham Properties development of the properties piers and slips, have reached an agreement with Rolland and the new owners.
“I am just delighted about the sale. I believe the new owners are committed to Chautauqua type activities,” said Rolland.
Rolland said finding a buyer for the property has taken a lot longer then he had expected, but is very pleased Parent is the one purchasing the property . Rolland said he does not know at this time what other development plans Parent might have for the property, and Rolland would not comment on the final price of Oakwood Park.