Construction is in full swing on the final nine holes of a stalled Chesterfield County golf course.
More than $7 million is being spent to complete Westham Golf Club, a semi-private course built as the centerpiece of the once struggling Magnolia Green residential development off Hull Street Road.
Westham’s owners pulled the trigger on construction in recent weeks.
“We’re cranking out here,” said Tom Page, vice president of land for iStar Financial, the $7 billion New York REIT that owns the course and the neighborhood’s surrounding 1,900 acres.
Crews are cutting through the landscape and shaping new holes on the 260-acre course. There are additional plans for a clubhouse, a driving range and other amenities with a total price tag of about $7.5 million.
“Anything that’s half finished is not a good thing,” Page said. “I told them ‘Let’s finish the golf course.’ ”
iStar is spending about $2.8 million to finish the course itself. Plans for a $3 million clubhouse are also in the works, Page said. It has another $1.2 million slated for a 3,800-square-foot welcome center that will begin construction at Magnolia Green’s entrance on Hull Street Road in a few weeks.
Construction of the new holes should be completed by late summer. The arduous process of getting the grass ready for play should be done just in time for spring 2015, Page said.
The sounds of construction are music to the ears of Westham General Manager Bobby Kidder, who for the past few years has been trying to drive revenue at a course with only nine holes.
“It shows confidence,” Kidder said of the work the underway.
While it had 15,000 rounds played last year, it’s tough for a nine-hole course to compete in the crowded Chesterfield golf scene, he said.
“[Players] want to play 18 holes,” Kidder said, adding that
Westham currently has 74 members. Adding the new nine has Kidder confident he can get that number up to 250 or 300.
The construction will come with a reordering of some of Westham’s current holes. The holes being built will become the front nine. What’s now the second hole will be 18th hole. The current first hole will become the 17th.
Tennessee-based Sanders Golf is handling construction of the new holes.
Nicklaus Design is one of the architects, as it was on the initial nine holes. Ault, Clark & Associates is also an architect on the job.
Westham is run by Billy Casper Golf, a course-management firm out of Northern Virginia.
The action at Magnolia Green extends well beyond the fairway.
Barely 100 homes dotted its streets when iStar took control of the entire development through foreclosure in 2009. Today, more than 400 homes are occupied in the neighborhood and it’s adding about 100 each year, Page said. A total of 123 homes were sold in Magnolia Green last year, he said.
A handful of builders, including HHHunt, Ryan Homes, Eastwood Homes, Craftmaster Homes and Royal Dominion Homes, are working on lots in the neighborhood’s first phase. A high-end custom section called Veranda Oaks is also going up.
Next to what is now Westham’s temporary clubhouse, HHHunt has the first section of a 162-townhome development under construction. Its first phase will have 49 units.
A long-term plan designed in three phases, iStar has plenty of room to play with at Magnolia Green.
Its 1,900 acres are zoned for 3,500 housing units. Another 200 acres are set aside for commercial development fronting Hull Street Road. That section is likely three to five years out, Page said.
It has 28 acres for a planned park and 25 acres for an elementary school to be eventually built by the county.
The neighborhood’s first phase has 27 acres for apartments set aside. Another 107-or so acres have been tagged for future multifamily development.