The 18-acre Sumner Meadows Golf Course, built on City property in 1996 — and for which the City still owes $5.8 million plus debt-service payments — has a buyer.

Well, a potential buyer, anyway, according to sources within City Hall.

“A buyer has been chosen, but it’s not officially confirmed yet,” is all that one Sumner employee would say on the record.

Rumor has it, though, that Principal Financial Group was chosen by the City, as of mid-June, as the winning bidder for the property, which went up for sale in March. Although two additional city government employees who wished not to be named agreed that Sumner is indeed negotiating a purchase and sale agreement with the financial group, a City spokesperson said that any talk of finalizing the deal is still off the table.

That it’s for sale is because the golf course has been draining funds from City coffers since the council agreed to spend $8 million to develop it roughly two decades ago. The original plan was for the property to pay for itself in five years, and from thereon fund all city parks.

However, between then and now, Sumner Meadows has been in the red every year except one. To keep it going, the City pinched money in-house from utility funds, on the condition that those dollars would be repaid in three years. So far, that hasn’t happened. And now, besides the original $5.8 million, Sumner owes an additional $1.5 million in debt service plus nearly $700,000 for “interfund” loans.

Zoned for industrial, now that a real buyer is in the mix, the property is something that many local business owners and government officials think will become a warehouse district. According to Colliers brokers, approximately 3 million square feet of warehouse space could be built there. The developers are already projecting more than 2 million square feet of distribution center and warehouse space to be built in Pierce County this year.

Between the time the golf course was put on the selling block and the bid closing in May, nearly three-dozen potential buyers expressed interest.

An anonymous City source said that, if the deal is inked, Sumner Meadows Golf Course will close this fall.