Castlewood CC Mulls Options for Addressing ADA Concerns

By | May 17th, 2018

The historic 94-year-old club in Pleasanton, Calif. is under pressure to bring its clubhouse in compliance and is looking at avenues that include offering up part of one of its 18-hole courses for development, or selling to a private operator.

Castlewood Country Club in Pleasanton, Calif. will be facing some difficult decisions this summer as it seeks solutions to bring its clubhouse in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Pleasanton Weekly reported. And one possible avenue could be offering up part of one of the historic club’s two 18-hole golf courses for housing development, the Weekly reported.

The historic, 94-year-old club has been under pressure from Alameda (Calif.) County, the Weekly reported, to meet ADA standards for its current clubhouse, which was built in the mid-1970s after a fire destroyed buildings from what had been the estate of Phoebe Hearst, mother of publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst. Phoebe Hearst sold her home to a group of businessmen in 1924, who then formed Castlewood Country Club on the property.

General Manager John Vest told the Weekly that Castlewood’s staff and its Board of Directors have been exploring all options to bring the clubhouse in compliance, including the hiring of an outside firm to evaluate the ADA issues that resulted in a 387-page report that is now guiding the discussion of alternatives.

Offering up part of Castlewood’s Valley Course for development, the Weekly reported, was an option recently revealed to members in a letter from Kevin Wrenn, who became Castlewood’s new President in April.

“As you are aware, our club has ADA issues that could cost the club millions to rectify,” Wrenn’s letter said. “The Board of Directors and the House Subcommittees have been studying a variety of options around ADA compliance at Castlewood and how to best fund the renovation or replacement of our clubhouse.”

The letter said that having members fund the improvements themselves could result in assessment of thousands of dollars to the 600 families who own equity memberships, the Weekly reported. Castlewood also has 400 additional social members.

“One other financing option we have been studying,” Wrenn’s letter continued, “is a land development venture that Ponderosa Homes has submitted to Castlewood. Ponderosa has proposed to work in partnership with Castlewood to entitle a large portion of the Valley Golf Course for residential development.

“The venture, if successful, could provide enough capital to potentially cover the ADA issues or replace the clubhouse,” the letter continued. “The purpose of my note is to inform you at this time that Ponderosa Homes and Castlewood are exploring the feasibility of this proposed venture. Since public discussions will commence soon, the Board wants to ensure our members are aware and hear about this proposed venture from us.

“Prior to any recommendation to the membership, Ponderosa and the Board want to understand the development potential of the property, the financial implications, the impact to our membership of the sale of the Valley Golf Course, and the potential willingness of the city of Pleasanton to entertain the annexation of the property into the city from the county of Alameda,” Wright’s letter said.

The entitlement process and land plan would present challenges, the Weekly noted, because Union Pacific Railroad tracks run through the middle of the property, and much of the Valley Course is bounded by the Arroyo de la Laguna on its west side.

The directors and staff of Castlewood are also exploring selling the club to a private operating firm, the Weekly reported—the same route taken by the former owner of Ruby Hill Country Club in Pleasanton, which is now part of Arcis Golf.

But Castlewood, in contrast to Ruby Hill, is an equity club, the Weekly noted, and a sale would change the club’s status from nonprofit to for-profit, while also leaving it to the buyer to solve the ADA issues in the clubhouse.

Castlewood’s directors are planning a town hall meeting for members in June to lay out the options, the Weekly reported, at which members will vote on which option to pursue.

The current clubhouse is 51,000 square feet, the Weekly reported, and if a new facility is pursued, Vest said, plans are being worked on for one that would be between 35,000 and 40,000 square feet.

A former club President told the annual meeting of the Castlewood Homeowners Association in February, the Weekly reported, that while traditionally about 80% of the homeowners have also been equity members of the country club, that number has now dropped to about 50%, and the club has had to put more effort into maintaining the property.

Castlewood and Blackhawk Country Club are the only two 36-hole private facilities in the East Bay of the San Francisco area, the Weekly reported.

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