Hamptons Golf Club

Local golf courses facing common plight

Two proposed residential redevelopment projects on Calgary golf courses are at the tipping point of an economic sustainability challenge hitting the golf industry throughout North America.

A proposal for new homes in two pocket areas at the Hamptons Golf Club — to support a substantial overhaul of the golf course itself — and the proposed closure of the nine-hole Harvest Hills Golf Course for the construction of single and multi-family homes, are working their way through community consultation and city application processes.

Hamptons Golf Course Ltd. has released preliminary concepts for northwest Calgary club’s redevelopment, which would see a reconfiguration of the existing 18-hole course that would facilitate the construction of 35 to 65 new homes.

In Harvest Hills, initial plans call for a new residential area of about 700 units, built by Cedarglen Homes, which bought the land from Windmill Golf Group.

QuantumPlace Developments Ltd. managing principal Chris Ollenberger, whose company is acting as development manager for both Calgary projects, says course owners are being hit on a number of business fronts: tax increases, stagnant growth in the number of golfers hitting courses and an increase in the minimum wage.

“With such a large amount of land area occupied by a golf course, it’s common for real estate redevelopment to be contemplated on struggling or unprofitable golf courses as an exit for their owners,” he said.

In fact, the proposed changes to the two Calgary golf courses are by no means unique. The owners of Oakville, Ont.’s high profile Glen Abbey — home to 27 Canadian Opens — just last month filed a preliminary proposal for redevelopment of the course as a huge housing and commercial project.

ClubLink Corp., the 93-hectare golf course’s owner, is proposing replacing the course entirely with 3,000 homes. The company also closed a golf course in Aurora, Ont., a year ago, seeking residential rezoning.

The Hamptons plan would see two sites (Site A between the current 14th and 15th holes and B between the first and second holes) of 2.8 and 0.6 hectares each, redeveloped as single-family sites. The course would be reconfigured to continue as an 18-hole facility.

Ollenberger says revenue from residential sales would be reinvested into rebuilding greens, replacing dated infrastructure and making the course more appealing to the average golfer.

Both projects have fielded significant feedback from neighbouring residents, especially those with homes on the golf courses who feel they paid a premium for that opportunity.

“We appreciate this is a difficult thing and personal,” said Ollenberger, but “the green space that looks like a park, is not.”

In the Hamptons, an initial open house drew more than 400 people. Technical studies — geo-thermal, stormwater — are underway as the community feedback is assessed.

Ollenberger anticipates going back to Hamptons’ residents early in 2016 for more consultation, with a full conceptual proposal for initial City review expected in the spring.

In Harvest Hills, an initial proposal — after extensive community consultation — was submitted to the City of Calgary’s planning department that, in turn, just issued its review to the developer.

Revised concepts are expected to go back to the City by December, with potential submission to the planning commission next spring.