Golf courses don’t simply grow grass and trees — they also grow attachments between the land and the residents who live along the course’s borders.
We’ve learned that firsthand at PulteGroup, where we’ve been in the business of developing and operating golf courses within residential neighborhoods for decades. That’s why we’re committed to doing everything economically and architecturally feasible to satisfy the neighbors who live by the former Ahwatukee Lakes Golf Course.
Pulte entered into a purchase agreement last year with the course’s current owner, Wilson Gee. Ever since, we’ve been working through the due diligence phase of this complicated transaction, which means we’ve been paying close attention to the frustrations and concerns of Mr. Gee’s neighbors. While Pulte had nothing to do with the closing of the course or putting up the chain link fence, we fully understand the disappointment and frustrations of those who live nearby. We want to be a part of the solution here, by siting a sustainable, beneficial use on land that has become an eyesore and will continue to decay.
While the closing of the Lakes golf course is a disappointment to all, its fate is consistent with golf course closures across the nation. For example, according to the National Golf Foundation, 65 percent of the 132 public golf courses that closed in 2011 were courses with daily green fees of less than $40 per round. Sound economic analysis of the property tells us it’s no longer viable as a golf course.
We believe we can use our experience as one of the Valley’s top builders to redevelop this land into a beautiful neighborhood of quality single-family detached homes. Our proposed land plan will provide an average buffer between existing properties and new properties of over 105 feet, while maintaining a minimum buffer of 75 feet. Additionally, our proposed plan will provide a minimum of 38 percent open space with trails for the public benefit and ensures that the development will include no more than 2.5 single-family detached homes per acre.
Pulte’s proposed neighborhood is consistent with the community’s aesthetics and will be designed to stabilize and ultimately raise property values. The proposed development will represent the first new homes built in Ahwatukee in many years and will bring new life to the community while preventing the building of high-density apartments and commercial ventures the neighbors have made clear they oppose.
Speaking of the neighbors’ opposition, Pulte is committed to working with you on a sustainable land use. Simply put, if a majority of the Ahwatukee landowners do not want to see the current site redeveloped as a quality single-family neighborhood, we will no longer pursue this potential purchase. We hope the parties that want this land to remain only as a golf course will seek out and engage experts, as we have, to evaluate whether a sustainable golf course can be re-developed and maintained on this property.
Again, we have done our homework. Our experience leads us to believe a golf course is not financially viable at Ahwatukee Lakes, or that such a buyer will be found. We at Pulte humbly submit that our proposal represents the best possible solution to a bad situation. Learn more about Pulte’s proposed solution at our website: www.pulteahwatukee.com.
• Mike Brilz is vice president of land for PulteGroup’s Arizona Division.