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By Steve Urbon -
December 05, 2011 12:45 PM

DARTMOUTH — The Hawthorne Country Club was auctioned off this morning for $2.5 million to Kevin Santos, owner of the Waterfront Grille in New Bedford.

Santos immediately made it clear that he has no interest in selling it to a developer, but rather that he wants to repair and upgrade the facility and keep it in the golf and banquet business.

TD Bank had foreclosed on the property after the estate of the late owner, William Schuler, failed to meet payments. The auction attracted a half-dozen bidders and a crowd of about 75 people in the building’s parking lot.

Auctioneer Dan McLaughlin tried to open the bidding at $2.5 million but got no bids until he went down to $1.5 million. From there, it broke down to a contest between Santos and Carlos Rafael, owner of a large New Bedford fishing fleet and scallop facility.

But Rafael stopped bidding at $2.4 million: “I’m out.” And Santos, standing next to him, won with a $2.5 million bid that McLaughlin let hang in the air for at least a minute.

Rafael told The Standard-Times that in his estimation the property, which includes the clubhouse, banquet facility and nine-hole golf course with an expansive view of the Paskamansett Valley, is worth between $1.9 million and $2.1 million. He said that the building has problems, and needs a new roof among other repairs and upgrades.

“Hawthorne Country Club is a magnificent piece of real estate,” Santos said. “I have lived in Dartmouth all my life, and I don’t want this to go to a developer.”

“We’re going to continue operations as existing.” The kitchen, he said, needs a rehab, along with other improvements.

Santos cemented his bid with a $20,000 deposit check; the remainder of the price must be paid within 30 days or the property goes to the second-highest bidder, which would be Rafael.

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