The Westfield, Ind., golf course, which was on the brink of closing in 2015, could be surrounded by 1,100 homes if a proposal filed by Pulte Homes is approved. Under the plan, the golf course would remain open for public play, and Pulte would add a catering kitchen and recreational center with a pool and tennis and basketball courts.
Months after the city of Westfield, Ind., delayed a controversial plan to preserve about 3,000 acres of land from suburban development, Pulte Homes has filed a proposal to build a massive residential development along Wood Wind Golf Course, the Indianapolis Star reported.
Pulte has an option to buy the property, and wants to build 1,100 homes around the club over the next 15 years to create a golf-course community that would approach $500 million in value, the Star reported.
Pulte will introduce the proposal to the City Council today, with public comment taken on September 6. No votes are scheduled, the Star reported.
Pulte also will hold open houses to talk about its plans on August 11 and August 23 at the golf club’s pavilion. Pulte officials are reaching out because they know the proposal may concern homeowners who live in an area where development has been contentious for more than a year, the Star reported.
Wood Wind would remain open for public play. Four holes would be relocated north of 161st Street near the clubhouse and driving range. Pulte also would add a kitchen for catering food at the banquet facility and build a recreational center with a pool, tennis and basketball courts for residents. Pulte also hopes to find a partner to build a restaurant, the Star reported.
“We have heard loud and clear that the city wants to find a way to preserve the Wood Wind Golf Course, because it’s the only public golf course in Westfield,” said Dave Compton, a vice president of Pulte Homes. “We believe our plan modernizes and updates the golf course and creates a long-term sustainable platform for Wood Wind.”
Wood Wind was on the brink of closing in 2015, though it remains open for play this year. Owner Mark Thompson does not see a viable future for Wood Wind without converting it into a residential community, the Star reported.
“It is just not self sustainable,” he said. “There is not enough housing out there. Golf is such a tough industry that I think it takes a neighborhood to support it. Adding homes is probably the only thing that will keep it there.”
O’Neal Management Corp. has been operating the course for five years and could continue a partnership with Pulte Homes, potentially through management or ownership of the golf course, the Star reported.
“I think there is that possibility,” Doc O’Neal said. “Terms and conditions would have to be worked out, but we would certainly have an interest in that.”
Residents packed a City Council meeting in March 2015 when developer George Sweet proposed replacing the 210-acre golf course with a 315-home subdivision. Wood Wind is the only public golf course in Westfield, and many residents worried they’d be losing an important amenity. The backlash caused Sweet to quickly scuttle the plan. It also prompted area residents to craft a proposal to limit development at the golf course and surrounding land. So far, that proposal has not advanced, the Star reported.
Several residents who had purchased large lots in the area had hoped to preserve their rural lifestyle. In February, they introduced a plan to the Westfield Plan Commission called The Conservancy. They proposed limiting development to one home per three acres on 3,000 acres. The majority of the proposal would have impacted farm land, though the golf course is within the boundaries, the Star reported.
Area farmers and other large landowners protested. They argued The Conservancy would cost them millions of dollars in future development deals. Developable land in the area is going for about $35,000 an acre. Instead of approving The Conservancy, city officials asked the two groups—the large landowners and the preservationists—to find a compromise. That hasn’t happened, the Star reported.
Compton hopes the proposal to develop the golf course will satisfy both groups. He said Pulte would build homes away from perimeter roads and plant hardwood and evergreen trees as part of an extensive buffer. The black horse fence common in the area would be incorporated into the development, the Star reported.
But there’s no arguing the development would change the landscape. Pulte proposes to build 1,100 homes on 720 acres. That’s about 1.5 homes per acre, far above the one home per three acres the preservationists had wanted. Pulte has not released details about the specific types and price point of homes, the Star reported.
Pulte proposes to zone another 60 acres that a future developer could use for apartments and neighborhood retail. The apartments and retail would be positioned at the far southeast portion of the property, shielded from the remainder of the proposed Conservancy by the golf course, the Star reported.
Kristen Burkman, a resident in the area who helped develop The Conservancy plan, said the group had no comment on Pulte’s proposal at this time.
City Councilman Steve Hoover said he wants to see more details of Pulte’s proposal. He said it’s too early too say whether the proposal will fit with the city’s and residents’ hopes for the area, the Star reported.
“All I would say is the project looks interesting,” he said. “I think it’s different than what we’ve seen before, but I haven’t made any conclusions. I want to hear public input and see more detail.”
Hoover has been meeting with The Conservancy Group as it reworks its proposal to preserve land and hopes a compromise can be reached for the larger 3,000-acre area.