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Vision for Country Club land revealed

July 20, 2016

Golf won’t return to the Escondido Country Club, but a mixture of open space, recreational amenities and new homes could replace it, according to the potential developers of the 110-acre site who met with residents over the weekend to talk about the future of the blighted land.

During a two-day open house attended by hundreds of people, officials with New Urban West Inc. presented their vision for the vacant golf course property, which would include a new clubhouse, pool, gym, restaurant and other features and a 50- to 100-foot-wide green belt to separate existing homes from new ones.

The open space would encompass a third of the property, they said.

How many houses would be built, New Urban West said, will depend largely on the willingness of neighbors to help pay for the new amenities.

If residents agree to be part of some sort of tax assessment district, fewer homes would be built on the 18 fairways, holes and greens. If neighbors don’t want to participate, the number of new homes would rise so that the cost of the amenities could be spread out among future buyers.

New Urban West is the developer chosen by Country Club owner Michael Schlesinger to come up with a development plan for the vacant site. If the developer can win over the neighborhood and come up with an economically feasible proposal, it will buy the property from Schlesinger and proceed.

More than 300 people filled out surveys Saturday following the open house and by a 4 to 1 ratio indicated they thought the developer was on the right track, New Urban West spokesman Darren Pudgil said.

Many who came sounded unsure of the plans, but very sure that they liked the way the developer has been consulting with them at every step — a marked contrast to Schlesinger, who they said tried to ram development down their throats when they bought the course a few years ago and then shuttered it.

“It’s not what everybody wants, but (New Urban West) are people who are honest and hard working that will work with us. The other people would not,” said Cliff Koralewski, who has lived with his wife, Carol, in the neighborhood since 1982.

“Everybody’s a little gun shy because of what’s happened in the past, but these people are honest and are trying to please as many people as they can to get what they want,” Koralewski said. “I think we’re in good hands. It’s up to the people to decide.”

His wife said a lot of her neighbors have come to the realization that a golf course is in nobody’s best interest.

“I think they’ve done a wonderful job of giving us more of what we want,” Carol Koralewski said. “More of a win-win. I think we can end up with something that was better than what we had before.”

Pudgil said within the next month New Urban West will present the community with a detailed housing plan based on their input. A final decision whether to move forward, purchase the land, and begin working with the city toward development permits should be made by Sept. 1.

“I like the green buffers,” said Joyce Moyer, who bought a house on the golf course after it had been shut down. She said she’s been waiting for something new to replace the blighted fairway she looks at.

“We live right along the golf course and I think the buffers would separate the new from the old but also keep everybody happy,” she said.