The investor wants to transform Augusta into a national destination


AUGUSTA, Missouri (AP) – A Florida investor with Missouri roots is spending an estimated $ 100 million in hopes of turning a Missouri Wine Country region into a destination that will draw visitors from across the country.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that David Hoffmann, CEO of the Hoffmann family of Cos., Spent months buying land in the small town of Augusta along Route 94 in St. Charles County. , including four of Augusta’s five wineries, including at least 750 acres of vines. He sees the area as Missouri’s own version of Napa Valley.

“This is all going to happen, and it’s going to be done quickly, and it’s going to be done wonderfully,” said Hoffmann, who grew up in Washington, Missouri. “It will be a national destination that people will be proud of.”

Some fear that the city of 290 inhabitants may lose its unique charm. Augusta’s first winemakers were German immigrants who arrived in the 19th century. Its vineyards have long been popular with visitors to the Saint-Louis region, drawn in part by the region’s landscapes.

Already, crews have dressed old buildings in fresh paint, affixed plaques bearing the Hoffmann name to storefronts, and parked 1940s Chevrolet vans at several properties owned by Hoffmann.

Hoffmann acquired Balducci Vineyards, Mount Pleasant Estates, Augusta Winery and Montelle Winery. His company purchased 13 commercial properties undergoing renovations into a general store, gas station, florist and more.

Golf course designer Rhys Jones will design a 12-hole course. A hotel with 100 rooms is planned. The same goes for wagon and horse-drawn carriage rides, and a boat to navigate the Missouri River with a dock provided near Klondike Park. Hoffmann even plans to build free housing for up to 200 employees.

He said he was funding his vision with a combination of cash and loans.

The Hoffmann family, based in Naples, Florida, includes its global executive search firm DHR International, as well as Hoffmann Commercial Real Estate and private equity firm Osprey Capital. In total, Hoffmann and his family own more than 100 businesses and properties across the country.

Over the past 10 years, the Hoffmanns have invested heavily to renovate areas in three other cities: Winnetka, Illinois; Avon, Colorado; and downtown Naples.

At Mount Pleasant Estates, Augusta’s oldest winery established in 1859, crews have already started work such as repaving parking lots and repainting buildings.

“This is the biggest thing that I think can happen to Augusta,” said winery president Chuck Dressel. His family had owned the winery since the 1960s.

Jeff Shelby and his family have lived in Augusta since 2000 and have seen the city decline. He’s not afraid Augusta’s small town charm will be lost. He said he looked at what Hoffmann had done in other cities and thought he would do Augusta well.

Others are worried. Writer Judy Hennessey said she and her husband, Tim, of Defiance, wanted to downsize and build a smaller house on farmland they own in Augusta. They abandoned the plan once the Hoffmanns got to town. The Hennesseys don’t want to deal with the extra 94 crowds and traffic that they anticipate the development will generate.

“Everyone wants businesses to do well, but you also need to find a balance with what’s good for the community,” said Judy Hennessey. “God loves him, I guess he has enough money, he can buy and do anything. But it won’t be the same. The community will never be the same again.

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