City, developer agree on golf course deal

Tentative plan includes 194 acres slated for housing

Posted: Friday, October 29, 2004

Juneau and Totem Creek Inc. have reached a tentative deal to build an 18-hole golf course, with land for housing in north Douglas, according to the city and the nonprofit developer.

Totem Creek would lease a 274-acre area that would include the public golf course, city Lands and Resources Manager Steve Gilbertson said. Totem Creek will have the option to purchase an additional adjacent 194 city-owned acres for a possible housing development, board president Peter Metcalfe said.

"It's been a long process ... and the lease is the last step with the city, and hopefully they (Totem Creek) will find the financing and get it built," Gilbertson said.

The lease would run 35 years, and Totem Creek would have the option to renew for another 20 years, Metcalfe said.

The proposed course would lie within the Peterson Creek watershed.

Officials declined to say how much Totem Creek will pay the city for the lease, but said it will be based on a percentage of gross receipts collected by the golf course. The city will release the terms next week after making some language changes, Gilbertson said.

To build the course, Totem Creek has to show the city it has financing in place and must guarantee it will be built, Gilbertson said.

"We're in a position, once we have this lease signed, to solicit investors," Metcalfe said.

Totem Creek would not develop any housing itself, but would contract with builders if investors sign on, he said.

The agreement is expected to go before the Juneau Assembly Lands Committee by Nov. 22, committee chairman Randy Wanamaker said. He expects the committee to support the lease and send it to the full Assembly by December. The lease is subject to a public hearing.

"Everybody has been in favor of providing this additional recreational opportunity," Wanamaker said.

Not everyone agrees.

The city would be better off with no golf course and more housing in an area with little available flat land, said Dennis Adams, spokesman of the Douglas Service Area Advisory Board. The golf course is going to attract high-priced housing, which will not relieve the need for low- to middle-income residents, Adams said.

"We're so pinched right now for any type of housing," Adams said.

If the Assembly approves the lease, Totem Creek has five years to begin the golf course and 10 years to buy the city property, Metcalfe said.

The city has no plans to sell the golf course land, Gilbertson said. Totem Creek will pay property taxes on that land, which is now off the tax rolls.

Totem Creek could break ground for the golf course by late 2005, Metcalfe said. From the time of groundbreaking, it typically takes three years for play to begin, he said. Metcalfe expects the first nine holes would be playable the fourth year and the back nine would be ready by the fifth year.

• Tara Sidor can be reached at tara.sidor@juneauempire.com



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