Plans for a development north of Spokane called Blue Heron Estates have been changed, and a company called Blue Heron Estates LLC now is seeking county approval for a proposed tournament-quality golf course and an upscale, 95-lot housing subdivision there.
If the 420-acre project is approved in time, site work, which could cost as much as $9 million not counting any value from home construction, could start this fall, and the 18-hole Blue Heron Golf & Country Club could open in the spring of 2001, says Spokane developer Pete Rayner, who owns Blue Heron Estates LLC with Lee and Marge England, also of Spokane.
The project, which is to be located immediately south of the Indian Trail Road-Rutter Parkway junction, requires preliminary plat approval and a zone change to residential from general agricultural. The matter is scheduled to be discussed at a June 7 public hearing before the Spokane County Hearing Examiner.
First proposed in 1994, Blue Heron Estates now is starkly different than originally envisioned, Rayner says. New plans call for a higher quality golf course and dramatically fewer housing units.
Developers hope to build links of a caliber that could host major golf events, such as Mens U.S. Open-qualifying tournaments, Ladies Professional Golf Association tournaments, and state amateur championships.
Local promoters would love to bring major golf events to Spokane, but we dont have the course to accommodate them, Rayner asserts. We expect to be in a position to handle those kinds of events.
Rayner, who has conceptually designed the course himself but hasnt hired a course architect yet, says the course would be constructed in a manner that would provide ample space for spectators around tee boxes and greens, and along fairways. For example, preliminary design for the 18th green places it between two hills with gradual slopes, on which a large viewing gallery could stand or temporary bleachers could be erected.
Also, Rayner says an electrical infrastructure would be installed on the course that could provide enough power for television-camera crews and course lighting.
The 72-par course would be 7,200 yards in length, substantially longer than other links in the area. The Creek at Qualchan Municipal Golf Course, a 72-par course that is listed as one of the longer ones in the Spokane area, is about 6,600 yards long. At Blue Heron, however, five tee boxes would be built at each hole, giving players options for starting from shorter distances.
Water hazards would play a factor on several holesthe exact number hasnt been decided yetand large basalt outcroppings would create obstacles on a handful of others.
The clubhouse hasnt been designed yet, but Rayner says it likely would have at least 5,000 square feet of space and would include a pro shop, lockers, a full kitchen, and banquet facilities.
Its possible that the course would be semiprivate, meaning the course would be public, but the operators would sell memberships, and those members would get first choice for tee times, Rayner says.
The 95 residential lots planned in the development would range in size from half an acre to three acres. The homes generally would be built along the fairways, but Rayner says they would be set back so as not to interfere with play.
The lots tentatively are set to sell for $60,000 and higher, and homes worth $300,000 or more are expected to be built there.
Rod Plese, owner of Plese Realty LLC and developer of an established, neighboring 700-home subdivision named Sundance Hills, says many of the homes being built in that area already are in higher price brackets, usually between $200,000 and $300,000.
He says he believes there is pent-up demandboth on Spokanes North Side and in the area in generalfor upscale homes located on a golf course.
Moving onto a golf course is a very desirable option in Spokane, says Plese, who has talked to the projects developers about marketing the property. He says all of the lots likely would sell within three years after the golf course is opened.
When Rayner and his partners first proposed developing the property, plans called for a golf course and 1,200 housing units, including 520 single-family homes, 380 apartments, and 300 condominiums.
To make such a development possible, Blue Heron developers joined nearby landowners, including Plese and Spokane developers Harlan Douglass and Buster Heitman, in a proposal to annex into the city a total of 1,700 acres at the northwest edge of town. The city rejected that request, and Blue Heron has redesigned the project in hopes that the county will approve its preliminary plat and zone reclassification.
Before Rayner bought the property, another investment group, Canyon Investments Inc., planned a country club and golf course on the land, but those plans never materialized.
Blue Heron is the second golf development undertaken by Rayner. About five years ago, he opened Beacon Hill Golf, a 20-acre practice and training facility near Esmeralda Golf Course in East Spokane. That facility, includes a driving range and a one-acre putting course.
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