Tentative agreement reached for North Douglas golf course

Posted: Sunday, August 27, 2006

The first tee time at the proposed 18-hole west Douglas golf course is still years away, but the nonprofit group spearheading the effort has taken a big swing by signing a letter of intent with a pair of developers.

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Totem Creek President Peter Metcalfe signed an agreement earlier this month with Michael Peru of Medford, Ore., and Ross Waddell of Santa Barbara, Calif., who run HD Development. The letter of intent binds the groups together for the potential 274-acre project if the finances and proper permits can be secured, Metcalfe said.

"The next big step is the development agreement," he said. "If we get to that step it's pretty much a green light. At this point its pretty much a yellow light."

Peru said he and Waddell are meeting in southern Oregon this week to begin strategizing on how to get the project underway. He said they plan to come to Juneau sometime in early 2007 to begin discussing the project with city officials.

The development agreement includes securing financial backing for the course that is estimated to cost $10 million to $12 million, Metcalfe said. It would take at least three years from the beginning of construction to playing the first round of golf, he said.

"It will be a go if we can get through the hoops and if we can make it a responsible project from both ends, financially and environmentally, and make it something the community can be proud of," Peru said.

Totem Creek secured a 35-year lease of city property in February of 2005 to build the course, but it has yet to receive permits for the proposed housing development the groups hopes will help fund the public golf course. The groups have five years to come up with the money for the course or the lease will not go into effect.

Paying for construction and operation costs would be difficult if not impossible without the residential development, Metcalfe said.

"With the residential development in effect paying for the construction of the golf course, which we hope will happen, there's no doubt in my mind that this golf course can support itself operationally," he said.

Getting the community behind the idea in hopes of drawing local investment in the project is vital for the course to be built, Peru said.

"The most important part of the thing is that it sits well with the community because if it doesn't, it won't get support," he said. "If it doesn't get support, it won't make it."

The golf course could be a way to help gain public support for the second crossing to Douglas Island and help with affordable housing options, Metcalfe said.

"This is kind of going hand in glove with the west Juneau development concept," he said.

It also could be a way to help figure out sewer and water infrastructure in the area for future development, Peru said.

He said the land selected for the project is a beautiful area for a golf course, but it will take some time to get to the point where the dream becomes a reality.

"It's a big job and there's a lot of things that have to happen to make it happen," Peru said.

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