The Orange County Board of Supervisors has given approval for lease negotiations to begin with potential developers of about 200 acres of the former Coyote Canyon landfill outside of Newport Beach, Calif. The leading plan would build an 18-hole short course, a double-ended, double-decker driving range, 12,000-sq. ft. clubhouse, 16,000 sq. ft. of ballrooms and wedding gardens, and a food court with a patio.
A long-closed landfill near Newport Beach, Calif. could be transformed into a public golf course, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The Orange County (Calif.) Board of Supervisors voted at the end of September for county staff to begin negotiating a lease agreement with Chapman Investment Co. and Guardian Investment Capital to develop the course on about 200 acres of the former Coyote Canyon landfill, the Times reported.
If the staff and Chapman can’t reach an agreement, the county will turn to an alternate developer, TAIT & Associates of Santa Ana, Calif., the Times reported.
The county declined to make Chapman’s and TAIT’s proposals available, the Times reported, but did include some details from a staff report for the supervisors’ meeting on September 26.
Chapman proposes an 18-hole short course with a double-ended, double-decker driving range, instruction via the PGA Tour Golf Academy, a 12,000-sq.-ft. clubhouse and 16,000 sq. ft. of ballrooms and wedding gardens, and a food court with a patio, the Times reported.
TAIT’s vision includes an 18-hole links course with a driving range, public space with walking trails, an outdoor beer garden and recreation area, a banquet facility and a boutique hotel, spa and four-star restaurant, the Times reported.
The county started evaluating the two proposals in December, the Times reported.
Craig Kessler, Director of Governmental Affairs for the Southern California Golf Association, told the Times that Orange County has a relative shortage of the kind of fast-play course proposed by Chapman. As a “starter” course for novice golfers, it could complement other courses in the area, Kessler said.
“There’s always room for one more, if you do it right,” he said.
But Stuart Lindsay. Principal of Edgehill Golf Advisors in Wisconsin, told the Times that he didn’t agree that there’s room in the region for another alternative place to play.
“I don’t think anybody that operates golf courses in Orange County would think they need another golf course,” Lindsay said. “All it’s going to do is cannibalize demand in other golf courses in Orange County.”
Executive courses are less economically viable than full-length courses, Lindsay added. Within a few years, Lindsay predicted, the county will be saying to itself, “We’ve got to figure out what to do with this elephant.”
For golf uses, a Topgolf-type facility would be the most effective, Lindsay said. The sports entertainment complex where players hit microchipped balls at targets on a state-of-the-art driving range, currently has only one location in California, the Times noted.
Aside from golf, Lindsay told the Times, a bird sanctuary would be a good use for the landfill. A separate 123 acres of the Coyote Canyon landfill site are already set aside for California gnatcatcher habitat, the Times reported.
“I would suggest that it’s better off as parkland,” Lindsay said.
The landfill, on county-owned land in the city of Newport Beach, operated between 1963 and 1990, the Times reported. The county is opening about 205 of the landfill’s 395 acres for leasing and development.
The Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the lease negotiations in its September 26 meeting, though Supervisor Todd Spitzer said the area is saturated with golf as demand for the game diminishes, the Times reported.
But the Chapman facility would take that into account, with fast play and an emphasis on corporate and private events, Scott Mayer, the county’s chief real estate officer, told the supervisors.
“I think if one looks at the business terms that were agreed upon many, many years ago when golf was much more popular … those terms wouldn’t necessarily be appropriate and wouldn’t be the terms that we would negotiate today,” Mayer said.
Supervisor Shawn Nelson showed trust in the proposed developers, the Times reported.
“These are people that have been in the golf business a long time, but also in financing golf courses, and they’re well-aware that golf is changing and this model, at least in their view, is sort of how to embrace the change,” Nelson said.