Friday, May 2, 2008

Study supports Quigley Canyon golf

Express Staff Writer

Hailey resident Katja Casson and land planner John Gaeddert study plans for the development of 1,019 acres of Quigley Canyon at open house Wednesday

Enough demand exists in the Wood River Valley for moderately priced, publicly accessible golf to allow a new course in Quigley Canyon to become profitable by its fourth year of operation, a recently released study concluded.

The study, completed April 25, was revealed Wednesday at an open house at Hailey City Hall to provide the public with more information about a proposed subdivision in the canyon. The Hennessy Co., a local developer, would like to create 379 home sites, an almost 200-acre golf course and a clubhouse for golfing in the summer and nordic skiing in the winter on 1,109 acres. Upon their completion, the course and clubhouse would be deeded to the Blaine County recreation district.

The project involves an application to annex the entire property into the city of Hailey.

"If we don't annex into the city, we will not be building the golf course," company owner Dave Hennessy said.

Though the open house covered an array of issues, many of those who attended focused their attention on the potential for golf.

"A lot of people came out in support of the golf course today," said Hailey Planning Director Beth Robrahn. "They were very excited about the possibility of having this amenity for the city of Hailey."

The Hailey Planning Department is taking written comment and providing information on the annexation request in anticipation of a series of public hearings beginning June 18 before the City Council.

The golfing feasibility study was done by Peterson Economics, a real estate economics consulting firm in Anacortes, Wash., hired by the Hennesy Co.

"Based on Peterson Economics' analysis, it appears that while the proposed golf facility would likely require modest operating subsidies for about three years, over the longer term, it offers the potential to generate reasonably attractive net operating income if properly designed, correctly positioned in the market and effectively operated," the report's executive summary states.

The study estimates the course will sell 19,000 rounds of golf in its first year of operation and 24,000 rounds by its sixth year. It projects losses of between $20,000 and $100,000 per year for the course's first two years of operation, an income of $150,000 by the fourth year and a stabilized income of $360,000 per year by its eighth year.

The study notes that the only existing public-access golf course in the county is at Sun Valley Resort, which charges a $155 greens fee. Peterson Economics recommended peak-season greens fees of $40 for local residents and $86 for non-residents to use the proposed Quigley course.

"(The) golf course will likely offer strong appeal to golfers from throughout the county, including visitors staying in Ketchum and Sun Valley," the study stated.

"In general, the subject site is highly attractive for golf. It features an interesting variety of terrain—rolling valley-bottom land and dramatic hills—and offers sweeping views of Quigley Canyon and a portion of the Wood River Valley.

"According to current plans, the proposed Quigley Canyon golf course would be designed to include interesting variety and considerable challenge."

John Gaeddert, land planner for the developer, said golfers could be teeing off in late summer of 2010 "if everything runs smoothly."

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