The contract buyers for the Westpark Golf Club property in Leesburg unveiled their most recent development plans to members of the public Tuesday night.
The meeting was attended by residents from Country Club and other neighborhoods surrounding the property. Many in the audience were delighted to hear that new plans would retain the 18-hole golf course and driving range. The property is located along Clubhouse Drive west of South King Street.
During a community meeting in December, representatives of CalAtlantic Homes, the contract buyer on the property that recently merged with Lennar, expressed a desire to develop the 140-acre property under by-right zoning, which would allow for the development of 27 single-family homes. Another option was for a clustered layout option, which would have required zoning approval from the Town Council. While the developer then discussed the possibility of donating most of the golf course land to the town for use as a park or open space, many residents urged the developers to keep golf course land as is, rather than be developed.
In the intervening months, in addition to the corporate merger, the homebuilder went back to the drawing board to come up with plans that addressed the neighbors’ comments.
“The overwhelming comment we received was save the golf course,” David Rettew, now of Lennar, said Tuesday. “We did see [Save Westpark Golf Club] signs in your front yards. We tried to be receptive to that. Our latest proposal works to accomplish preserving the golf course in its present state.”
Rettew said they will be submitting an application to the town for the rezoning of commercial land to accommodate 96 townhouses. That section of the property houses the Westpark clubhouse and pro shop and is zoned B-3 (business). A rezoning to R-8 (residential) will be pursued, Rettew said. Lennar plans a Thursday pre-application meeting with town staff to discuss it.
The proposed 24-foot-wide townhomes would be three levels, with an option for a fourth-level loft. Rettew estimated they will be priced around $500,000, and an HOA would be formed to govern the community. He said around 12 acres would be needed townhome project.
In this scenario, the remaining 130 acres of golf course land would be donated to the Town of Leesburg, Rettew said.
“Once we take title to the property we’re not going to be maintaining the golf course,” he said. “We are proposing to offer the course to the Town of Leesburg should they choose to accept it. If they don’t want it, it can become open space.”
Rettew emphasized that if the town does not accept the land donation, that portion of the property would remain open space. If the townhouse rezoning is not approved, Lennar could return to the plans for a 27-lot subdivision, which would not require Town Council approval. He declined to say whether the sale of the property to Lennar was contingent on the approval of a rezoning.
Mayor Kelly Burk and Councilman Tom Dunn attended the meeting. In response to resident questions, Burk said the town staff would have to determine whether running the golf course would be economically feasible for the town.
“They’re taking down your pro shop, your shed, those have to be replaced. They’re taking parking, that has to be replaced. Maintenance on the golf course has to be improved. There’s a lot of numbers that have to be weighed into this. I can’t say that Town Council is opposed to it or in favor of it yet because we haven’t seen the final numbers to determine if it’s a project that the town can take on,” Burk said.
Having an outside entity or nonprofit organization run the golf course is one option to consider, as well as using the property as town parkland, Burk said. When the town reached out last year to gauge interest, neither the Loudoun County parks department nor the Northern Virginia Regional Parks Authority expressed an interest in running the golf course.
“We most certainly don’t want to lose that [land],” she said. “In itself it’s worthwhile to the town even if we kept it as a park of some sort.”
Late last year, town staff members estimated the costs of maintaining and enhancing the current golf course property and clubhouse to be $2 million, or even higher. That estimate does not include what it may cost to build a new clubhouse or parking lot. Their report also cast doubt on whether the town would be able to make a profit on golf course operations, once debt service obligations are taken into account. However, Rettew noted Tuesday night that the golf club did turn a profit last year. The golf club property went up for sale in late summer, and a town staff report pegged the listing price, which had not been publicly disclosed, at about $6.2 million.
While residents were generally supportive of the revised plans, there was some concern over any unanticipated changes. Many pointed to the Meadowbrook commercial development application, recently denied by the council, as an example of something the community did not want.
“We’re trying to avoid more surprises,” one resident said.