Inside Out Aerial Club West

Some kind of homes could be built in the area of the parking lot, four holes and the clubhouse in this aerial photo of Club West taken by Ton Sanfi lippo of Inside Out Aerial for AFN last year. 

 Initial reaction to the Edge Group’s Club West Golf Course plan suggests it’s too early to tell how it will fare with the community.

Following attorney Edwin Bull’s closing presentation on Jan. 16 to the overflowing crowd of residents, the crowd broke into applause and some of those in attendance later told AFN they were impressed by the plan.

But the following day, reaction on social media was mixed, with some residents hailing the plan, others criticizing the component involving houses on part of the course and still others cautiously neutral.

“Will be interesting to see how it goes down,” said one commenter. “Seems like a long process if they want to use land to build new homes and have to get majority agreement from residents but layout looks nice.”

That comment was echoed by others who were relieved the plan does not include condos or apartments.

But others opposed the loss of the course as it is now. For example, one wrote, “My Club West vote will be a firm ‘No.’”

While another wondered what whether the plan compensates owners of houses abutting areas of the course where homes would be built, another replied, “Highly doubtful, I doubt it.”

“It's similar to buying a house with farm land behind it and then the farm gets developed. You can argue with the HOA/City Board, but unless they reject it, it is what it is. Raising hell would be the only way to benefit... drawing it out for years and years and maybe there's some sort of negotiations where everyone wins (to some extent). Is it fair? No, but that's how it is. Real estate can be somewhat of a gamble sometimes.”

Another likened that impact on adjacent homes to those “that are impacted by freeways or other public development. Bottom line, you don’t own the esthetic so you lose.”

And one homeowner said he and his counterparts whose homes would lose their view of the course said, “People are livid.”

While some praised the plan for the community building/clubhouse as a strong asset, others were cynical about the reconfigured golf course’s future.

One poster dismissed the plan as a “cheesy golf course and a bunch of homes to create more traffic and congestion. No thanks.

“The volume of homes they propose to build makes me concerned that their only interest is to profit from new construction,” that commenter said. “What’s to stop them from pulling a Gee and not operate the course after all their homes are all sold?”

Added another: “They’re not in this to give us a golf course. A golf course is the carrot they are dangling to build houses, where the real profits are.”

Members of the Edge Group clearly anticipated at least some adverse reaction and addressed it directly during the Jan. 16 presentation.

Most forceful on that point was planning and zoning attorney Edwin Bull, who remarked:

“We recognize people in the room are upset that this golf course is no longer the way it was when they came here. We get that. That golf course is never coming back.”

With an open house slated for Jan. 29 at Altadena Middle School – where members of the Edge Group will be on hand to answer questions about the plan in much the same way as the Arizona Department of Transportation’s open houses before freeway construction began – the Club West Community Association board will be taking written questions prior to its next HOA meeting in February.

“There’s a lot to think about,” said board president Mike Hinz.

At least one group of several dozen homeowners were scheduled to meet at a Club West resident’s home tonight, Jan. 22, to discuss the plan and weigh other options.

“Our hope is to leave emotion at the door as best we can and find out what the homeowners think in person,” that homeowner wrote on the social media site Next Door.

The agenda loosely included “Proposed changes from The Edge Club West – pros/cons. 2. Restoration of the existing golf course - is this feasible? 3. HOA/homeowner purchase of the land - is this feasible? 4. Public land organizations/govt help - what options do we have? Desired outcome: find some common ground and build an action plan for next steps.”

An informal poll started by homeowners on Next Door on Dec. 21 that drew 150 votes showed that 57 percent of those who participated favored “desert landscape to preserve the land (no infrastructure).”

The other two choices on that poll – a smaller course with houses and “do nothing” each drew about 27 percent of votes.

There are around 2,400 to 2,700 homes in the community, so the poll reflects only a sliver of the community.

Trend lines for the poll did show a spike in approval of the smaller-course-homes plan after it was unveiled last week. But those same trend lines showed a far bigger spike in those who preferred desert landscape.

Hinz told AFN that the board immediately replied to Club West homeowner Kevin Curran’s request early last week for a meeting on his study of the adverse impact that the closed Ahwatukee Lakes Golf Course has had on home values in its vicinity.

Based on that study, Curran theorized that Club West homeowners could suffer an “opportunity cost” of $60,000 by the end of the next five years if their golf course remains in its current condition.

An opportunity cost essentially means lost appreciation.

A retired CEO of the Fisher Price toy corporation, Curran has asked the board to consider several alternatives – such as buying the course and having the HOA run it at a one time cost of $1,500 per homeowner or a $665 one-time cost per homeowner to buy the course and turn it into a park.

He estimated a park would require about $200,000 to $300,000 in annual maintenance at a homeowner cost of about $100 a year.

Curran also suggested homeowners could kick in for construction of a pipeline to bring cheaper water from the Gila River Indian Community to the course.

During the presentation, Edge Group representatives stressed that the course in its current state and size would require millions in renovation costs since the irrigation system alone needs replacement.

While Edge Group representatives during the presentation repeatedly acknowledged that their plan first hinges of board approval and then homeowners’ approval, it did set out a timeline based on favorable outcomes in those two votes.

That timeline assumes that if residents give the okay, city zoning and site plan reviews would take the entire second half of the year and extend into January with construction beginning in June 2021 and grand openings occurring between 2022-23.

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