Should Larchmont Golf Course be Moved for Affordable Housing?
Missoula County Commissioners held a Microsoft Teams meeting on Monday afternoon to hear a proposal that would close the popular Larchmont Golf Course and relocate the facility on land off Highway 93 South in order to make way for much needing mixed-use housing on the Larchmont site.
Missoula County Director of Economic and Land development Emily Brock introduced the project and the developers from WGM Group and BlueLine Development.
“On October 15th of this year, exactly a month ago, the county received a proposal from a local developer and an engineering firm to develop Larchmont Golf Course into mixed- use housing,” said Brock. “In exchange for that they would provide a plot of land that they owned, which is about 160 acres where a new golf course could be built.”
Jeff Smith with WGM Group said the new development would provide housing for all income levels.
“In facing the housing crisis head on, there's an opportunity to think outside of the box to analyze our options to act swiftly and to consider the long term effects of today's decision,” said Smith. “While the Larchmont Golf Course is a valued and profitable recreational amenity for the community, imagine transforming the almost 170 acres of the Larchmont site and the adjacent City of Missoula property into a neighborhood with approximately 2,000 new housing units for all income levels, creating home ownership opportunities, senior living, medical center expansion, neighborhood shops and parks.”
Kate Dinsmore, also with WGM Group, added to Smith’s comments.
“The proposal targets 2,000 housing units including 800-plus attainable single family owner occupied homes utilizing the community land trust model to protect affordability into the future,” said Dinsmore. “There would be 300 to 400 permanently affordable multifamily homes targeting less than 80% of area median income, and 300 homes targeting the senior living demographic.”
After the WGM and BlueLine presentation, Bill Galiher, Larchmont Golf Course Manager provided his reaction to the development proposal.
“As far as the Larchmont site goes and replacing it, I don't think it's a viable option just because of the work it takes and how long it takes to develop a mature golf course,” said Galiher. “I mean, we've had people that have been playing here for 40 years waiting for our trees to grow up and then to displace them and move them to a site where it might take another 40 years to develop and grow would not be fair to the people who have supported this place, and the 45,000 people that play here every year. I don't think it'd be very fair to them.”
Chair of the Larchmont Advisory Board, Brent Harshbarger, also panned the proposal.
“We (the board) unanimously voted to not support the proposal, of course,” said Harshbarger. “We've got our letter with what probably looks like 25 to 30 different bullet points of contention with either starting a new course or doing away with the course. Something that's not on there is I was just thinking of is having 3,000 extra people at the new course, which means we're going to have probably a couple thousand extra cars and two stoplights. Right now with leagues we have tough time with guys making it by six o'clock from North Reserve Street the way it is.”
Larchmont Golf Course is on county-owned land.
The County Commissioners will not take any action from today’s meeting, but will discuss the merits of the proposal and whether it warrants dedicating staff resources to further explore the details and public opinion.
Commissioner Josh Slotnick texted this message to KGVO News:
'Here's how we left it. In a couple of weeks Emily Brock will bring us a work plan, a description of how much staff time it would take to dig in on this as an idea, and get real details on what this would mean for all facets of our community. If we go with her plan, then it will take a year for us and the developers to do the due diligence on this. After we get the details, and the community has had lots of opportunity to comment on the developers finished plan, then we will make a fully informed decision on how to proceed.'
View the Teams meeting through the link above.
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