Dallas Mayor To Announce Private Golf Club in South Dallas Today
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BILL NICHOLS and RUDOLPH BUSH
Published: 29 November 2012 02:14 PM
The city of Dallas, in partnership with AT&T and Southern Methodist University, is planning the development of a 400-acre championship golf complex in the heart of southern Dallas.
The deal, to be announced at a news conference Friday morning, is proposed as a major boost to the city’s southern side and could bring golf events to Dallas, including major championships and the HP Byron Nelson Championship, Mayor Mike Rawlings said.
“There’s a huge sports component of this, not unlike moving Rangers Stadium or Cowboys Stadium to Dallas,” he said. “We will have a first-class, world-championship golf course.”
If completed as envisioned, the complex will include an 18-hole, semi-private championship course, a nine-hole beginner’s course, a practice facility and a clubhouse built on old landfill property just east of Interstate 45 along Loop 12. Plans call for work to start next spring, with the main course ready for play in spring 2016.
SMU would use the course as an anchor facility for its golf program, and the nine-hole course would be for the use of The First Tee, an organization dedicated to introducing golf to young people, including disadvantaged kids.
Dallas residents will have limited access to the championship course, Rawlings said. The course will largely be for the private use of its members.
Rawlings described the deal as akin to the city’s investment in restoring privately owned buildings downtown.
The courses, practice facilities, clubhouse and other golf elements will be funded by a private, nonprofit entity that will include AT&T, representatives from SMU and other civic and business partners, Rawlings said.
Under a deal that will go before the City Council on Dec. 12, that nonprofit will be required to invest a minimum of $20 million in the course and facilities. The final development price could be $50 million or more. Those funds will be raised through investors and the sale of memberships in the club.
The city, meanwhile, will invest a maximum of $12 million in the project, City Manager Mary Suhm said. Most of that, $8 million to $9 million, will be dedicated to environmental remediation of the old landfill property that the course will occupy, she said. The city is required to remediate that land under a state order but will accelerate the work, with plans to begin in the spring.
In conjunction with the project, AT&T is donating $2.5 million to the city to build a 2.5-mile public hike-and-bike trail that will run from the Trinity River Audubon Center, just east of the golf course site, to Loop 12.
Rawlings praised the donation as a major step toward building public access into the Great Trinity Forest.
AT&T senior executive vice president Ron Spears said the company is pleased to be involved in developing southern Dallas and expanding the trail system.
“Dallas is our corporate home, and we are constantly seeking ways to enhance our community and participate as a corporate citizen,” he said in a prepared statement.
Suhm and Rawlings pledged that the Great Trinity Forest will not be disturbed by the golf course development. The land for the course will be limited to the bare landfill property.
“They won’t be doing things in the forest. No taking down trees. They will be planting trees,” Suhm said.
The city will retain ownership of that land and lease it to the nonprofit that controls the golf facility.
Rawlings hopes the golf complex will spur investment in the neighborhoods and businesses in what is largely a poor area of Dallas. But there are no concrete plans for additional development so far, he said.
The city is working to see a massive equestrian center called the Texas Horse Park built just north of the planned golf course site.
The course will be laid out with the idea of hosting the Nelson. The tournament is under contract with the Four Seasons Resort and Club in Irving through 2018. HP has two years remaining on its contract as title sponsor of the Nelson.
AT&T’s involvement in the course development is a natural fit for the company. It’s already a major player in professional golf. The company is title sponsor of two PGA Tour events — the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and the AT&T National — and a Champions Tour event, the AT&T Championship.
AT&T officials have already interviewed several renowned golf course architects, including Coore & Crenshaw, Tripp Davis and Associates and Tom Doak’s Renaissance Design. A portion of the property planned for the course is in a flood plain, but it is expected that area will be raised so the entire course is out of the flood plain. The city would then restore the lost flood plain land in an area nearby.
This is not the first golf venture for that area of the fertile Trinity River bottoms. In 1956, the 36-hole Riverlake Country Club opened off Loop 12 near the Trinity and White Rock Creek. Memberships sold quickly for the Press Maxwell-designed courses.
But regular flooding led to the club’s bankruptcy in 1959. The course reopened later as Sleepy Hollow, but floods eventually forced closure.
The opportunity to build a new, championship-quality course in the city is one that couldn’t be missed, Rawlings said.
“This is going to change the epicenter of golf in the metroplex, and, ladies and gentlemen, it’s going to be in southern Dallas,” he said. “Nobody ever thought we could do that in southern Dallas.”