The Plantation Country Club in Garden City officially has new owners today.
Glass Creek, LLC led by Will Gustafson, a California developer, completed the purchase from American Golf, which is selling clubs around the Western United States. Terms of the sale were not disclosed.
Speculation has run rampant on the future of the club, golf course and amenities in recent months, with an opposition group speak out against the sale and rumored plans well before it closed.
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No plans yet
For now, Gustafson says he does not have a concrete plan for the 120 acre-plus property but will be working on ideas in coming months.
“We have no preconceived plans yet,” he said in an interview with BoiseDev before the close became official. “We know that the golf course cannot continue to operate the way that it is because the patient will bleed out on the operating table.”
He said the course under American Golf has not seen the type of investment it needs to thrive and grow.
“It was a small asset for them in the scheme of things,” he said.
Gustafson has hired local consultant Bob Taunton to look at the course, its facilities and possibilities. People locally know Taunton for his work on the Avimor development in north Ada County.
Golf to continue at Plantation
“We are running a business – and I’m really concerned about keeping that business healthy,” Taunton said. “You see a lot of people who… are enjoying coffee or playing cards. It’s a special experience for them.”
Current employees at Plantation Country Club will stay in place and the new owners are working to raise some pay rates for key people.
They also plan to make some immediate upgrades, including putting money into the main clubhouse facility and working on the parking lot. Gustafson’s company has signed a five-year agreement with American Golf to continue to operate the property on his behalf.
“(Any changes) aren’t going to happen today or tomorrow,” Gustafson said. “We want to create a quality experience for our members and make sure the membership stays full. We want to come in and enhance and make a few improvements.”
A long process
Gustafson said he had hoped to close on the property this summer. But the seller, American Golf, is working to divest a number of its properties, with Plantation being among the smallest. The long, complicated process in multiple states pushed back the sale and created a rumor mill they say got ahead of them.
“Every project that is controversial goes through this process,” Taunton said “As time goes on, more thoughtful people come into the conversation. Hopefully, when there is more of a trust factor on both sides,- you look at adjustments and what we can make happen.”
“I think the concern is understandable because they are operating in the dark,” Gustafson. “It is unfounded – but I respect it.”
Taunton and Gustafson said they will spend the next six months or so evaluating the course – including the irrigation system, tree canopy and more.
Open space or no?
Save Plantation has pushed an idea to preserve open space at Plantation, according to reporting by KIVI.
“This is a California developer, who doesn’t live here. He’s coming here for one reason. He’s bringing his carpet bag so he can fill it with cash and we bear the brunt of it,” Plantation Master Homeowners Association president Pierce Roan told the TV station.
Taunton points out Plantation is not open space, but rather a private members-only club.
“The property is zoned R2 and has a land use entitlement,” Taunton said.
That zoning would allow for up to six homes per acre without any application for a zoning change.
“It could all be developed but that’s not ever going to be the intent here,” he said.
Garden City mayor John Evans echoed the sentiment to the Idaho Press.
“We’re in a strong property rights state,” Mayor Evans told the paper. “Right now the golf course is privately owned, is zoned (residential), and that zone provides an entitlement,” he said.
“We understand the value of open space,” Taunton said. “We would really like to improve public access to the Garden City park that is on the river. Pierce Park is a natural corridor to get them to the river. That’s one of the principles we have in mind.”
State St. to cut into hole
Taunton and Gustafson said the course’s tenth hole presents a major challenge, as the Ada County Highway District says it will need to take right-of-way for its upcoming Pierce Park realignment project
The hole runs right along busy State St. The street is the focus of a series of major projects to improve transit options on the key east-west corridor.
“We are going to lose hole number ten with the widening of State,” Taunton said. “The will take up to 24 feet of right-of-way along State. That’s the whole line of trees and most of the holes.”
ACHD spokesperson Natalie Shaver confirmed the discussions.
“The golf course is in the area of State St. and Pierce Park,” Shaver said. “Regardless of the ownership of the course, ACHD needs to purchase additional right of way for the project we need to do there.”
The highway district will realign Pierce Park to meet State St at a right angle instead of the current angular intersection.
Challenge and possibility
In October, KTVB reported the development could include strip malls and more housing.
Gustafson and Taunton emphasized they have no plan to that effect in place. But they say the substantial loss of right-of-way along the tenth hole presents an opportunity for all users.
“That’s going to trigger a hole redesign,” Taunton said. “If you are going to do that, one how do you pay for it and what opportunities.”
Since golf courses don’t operate with 17 holes, the layout could be rejiggered to make everyone happy.
“(We hope to take what) people like about Plantation – and they
Working together moving forward
Taunton said they want to engage many of the people who have rallied against the project before the sale became official.
“We want to start engaging if we can with a group of people – not just in Garden City, but the neighborhood associations in Boise – and talk to adjacent property owners that are not just residential and establish an informal working group,” he said.
Taunton notes that many of the homes along the back nine are so narrow it would be nearly impossible to put in streets and houses – and that a golf use or other green space
“I have this vision, when this is all done, whatever it is, people are going to be very happy,” Taunton said. “We want the people who live here to be very comfortable. It’s a process and it’s a messy process. We are not intimidated by it. It’s a process that we are going to work through.”
“We are very sensitive to this property,” Gustafson said. “We are very focused on the fact that this is not just 120 acres out in Eagle that used to be farmland. It requires additional respect and consideration and planning.”