Properties near Augusta National Golf Club purchased for Masters Tournament parking

The transformation of Berck­mans Road neighborhoods into Masters Tournament parking continues, with the addition of 1.43 acres that recently sold for $1.6 million.

Attorney Patrick Rice, representing the Augusta National Golf Club and Berckman Residential Properties, has requested that the city rezone lots at 353 Heath Drive and 357 Berckmans Road to allow for tournament parking.

Rice and an Augusta National spokesman could not be reached for comment. But according to property records, the two tracts sold in July, when Berckman Residential Properties purchased a 1-acre tract at 353 Heath Drive for $1 million from William Garner and a 0.43-acre parcel at 357 Berckmans Road for $600,000 from Kathryn Murphy.

It is not the first purchase Berckman Residential Properties has made from Garner. The broker paid $2.85 million for an adjoining 2.85-acre lot last year.

The acquisitions reflect a dramatic increase in purchase price since heavy buying began in the 1990s.

In 1999, the average price being paid for an acre was $222,000. By 2003, brokers were paying an average of $450,000 an acre. Today, the average price is above $1 million an acre.

And the latest two purchases are not the last. On Sept. 20, Berckman Residential Properties paid owner Marlene Spears $1 million for 1.265 acres at 409 and 415 Berckmans Road. Near the southern Berckmans boundary of the National, the tracts are the first south of Heath Drive’s southern leg known to be purchased for Masters purposes.

Berckman Residential Prop­erties now owns nearly all the land encircled by Heath Drive and Berckmans Road, most of which already is parking space.

The area, which is separated from the Augusta National by Berckmans Road and becomes heavily congested during the tournament, also continues to be considered for a major transportation overhaul, with the realignment of Berckmans Road with Alexander Drive on the list of projects to go before voters on a 2012 regional transportation sales tax referendum.

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