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Westpark remains in limbo as Leesburg council considers options

Courtesy Photo/CalAtlantic
The fate of Westpark Golf Course remains in the balance as the Leesburg Town Council looked into various rezoning options this week.

“People were confused … It’s important that they know what are the options that can be done,” Mayor Kelly Burk said. “We’ll have to see what comes down the pike and what is presented by our applicant.”

Westpark Golf Course is currently under contract to developer CalAtlantic. While the 141-acre property's zoning allows for 27 detached residences, golf course neighbors strongly oppose destruction of the green space in their backyards.

Director of Planning and Zoning Susan Berry-Hill discussed four options that Leesburg and developer CalAtlantic can pursue, assuming that the developer finalizes purchase of the property.

The first is by-right development. With this option, CalAtlantic could build houses without rezoning and without going through a lengthy approval process with the town.

The second is rezoning a part of the property as R-2, or “clustered zoning,” where the developer could build up to two houses per acre with the intention of donating the rest of the land to Leesburg as park space.

CalAtlantic is not a proponent of this kind of rezoning, Berry-Hill said, instead preferring to ask for clustered zoning via a text amendment. This would cut the approval process from eight months to five. However, Councilmen Tom Dunn and Ron Campbell disapproved, pushing for the developer to go through a full rezoning process.

The final option—one that CalAtlantic recently proposed—is to only apply to rezone the current hotel on the property to support townhomes, gifting the course to the town.

“The developer has heard you and has gone back and made some different changes,” Councilman Fernando “Marty” Martinez said to the handful of Westpark residents in the chamber Monday.

While Leesburg cannot accept proffers after the recent General Assembly law and the town’s own guidelines, gifts are acceptable.

Besides the options listed Monday night, a private entity, Loudoun County or Leesburg could make an offer to buy the land. CalAtlantic has expressed no desire to run a golf course or keep open land itself.

Council can take no governmental action until a proposal reaches the town, and this won’t happen until CalAtlantic either buys the property or backs out of its contract. According to Berry-Hill, CalAtlantic is holding Westpark under study until late February.

During council discussion, Dunn revealed that an additional contract-holder may be in play. He said that he got a call from a Long and Foster real estate agent in the second week of December.

“They want to just redevelop the hotel and leave everything else as it is,” he said, later telling the Times-Mirror that the rebuilt hotel might be smaller than the current one.

When asked, staff said they knew nothing of this additional contract holder, and the seller could not be reached for comment.

Comments


Government cannot earn a “profit”, and government must spend the money it collects, as that is the purpose of collecting the money.
If government collected your money, and then held it - not spending - you (everyone) would be upset. So which is it - spend it or not spend it? I know your response - don’t collect it. OK. Then who builds and maintains the streets, the water lines and treatment plant, the sewer plant, provides police and fire protection? You want Amazon or Walmart to provide all those services, ONLY to those who choose to pay for them, piecemeal, at whatever rate they feel like charging? Good luck in that universe.  You think the Rt. 66 or Greenway toll rates are “bad” - ha!


Much of the land is prone to massive flooding and is ecologically sensitive.  Portions of it should be condemned for these reasons alone.  Perhaps the area can be used for white water rafting.


Bad idea for government to get into the golf business in today’s golf market.  Goose Creek is going to be developed and someone mentioned Beacon Hill.  I think the RItz Carlton deal on 15 got sold.  Government can only spend money, not earn it.


CalAtlantic has a decent reputation in the industry and they do not want to break into this market and leave a bad taste in everyone’s mouth.  That said, they’re not going to do anything stupid either—like try to run a golf course.  So over to Leesburg or Loudoun.

We all believe that running the course would be a money-sink, but are we sure?  The next move here should be for L or L to contact any two of the golf course management firms that are prominent in the area and get bids from them on running the course.  See if the actual pros at this think it can work—meaning, break-even for the town and a reasonable profit for the management company…while keeping green fess reasonable.  If the answer is yes, take the gift.  If not, sad to say, time for Westpark to go the way of Goose Creek. 

And, BTW, Beacon Hill was an overdesigned Johnny Miller fiasco of a course that even the best golfers in the area said was way too hard.


Take the course and get someone to run it.  With a small investment of about 2 million it would be very competitive.


The Westpark course isn’t “bad.”  Its affordable, and when you golf at a course that you can play a round at in the afternoon for $25 or $30, its not going to look like Augusta National.  But its important to have public courses like Westpark so folks who don’t have the cash to join a country club can play.    Obviously golf has lost some popularity since the height of the Tiger-mania days, but after losing Goose Creek, it would be a shame to completely lose Westpark as well.  Here’s hoping the Town Council and the buyer can work something out that keeps the course open.  Honestly, the townhouses or hotel redevelopment options sound like a good compromise on the surface.


A golf course today, especially a bad one like Westpark, is a big money losing proposition in today’s golf market.  Taxpayers would be on the hook for a lot of money if Leesburg were to accept the golf course.  Courses are financially going under all over the country.

Beacon Hill HOA got a much better course by a top name designer for free and cannot find a way to reopen it financially. 

Single family homes are the best use of the Westpark land.  No cheaply built townhomes. “town centers”, or strip malls!  Low density would add the least to Leesburg’s tax burden.

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