Two holes in one for Escondido?

Published Sunday, March 3rd, 2013 by Dave Woods

Escondido has seen a mixed bag of golf course-related news in the last couple weeks.

First came word that a $55 million resort hotel has been proposed by former city councilman Tom D'Agosta for the Vineyard golf course in south Escondido. The idea sounds great, plus the majority of its funding appears to have already been secured. However, there may be some land-use problems standing in its way since the City of San Diego owns some of the course property.

Then we learned that the Escondido Country Club and its golf course are slated to shut down on April 1. Apparently, in light of declining membership and revenues, course ownership is averse to spending $1.75 million on needed renovations to the golf course and clubhouse. Nearby residents are rightfully concerned about the owner's apparent desire to bulldoze the golf course and replace it with as many as 440 new homes.

These two golf course stories have absolutely nothing to do with each other... Not yet, anyway. I couldn't help but envision some compelling potential "links" developing between them (pun intended).

Here's a big idea:

What if Mr. D'Agosta's hotel project were to be built on the site of the current Escondido Country Club instead of the Vineyard golf course? Under this scenario, D'Agosta's group could partner with the owners of the country club. The existing country club facility could be razed and replaced with a Rancho Bernardo Inn-style resort and country club hybrid.

The benefits could be tremendous for all involved.

For Mr. D'Agosta's group, they wouldn't have to haggle with potential land use issues involving the Vineyard course and the City of San Diego.

For the country club owners, pooling resources with a second financial partner like D'Agosta could make preserving and enhancing the golf course viable. In fact, such a dramatically-upgraded facility would likely attract more members, weddings, banquets, and corporate retreats — all of which could be quite lucrative.

For nearby homeowners, they would have the peace of mind that their investment and quality of life would be preserved.

For Escondido, the benefit is obvious: the city would finally get the high-end, full-service hotel it has long desired. Unlike the Vineyard, where I assume Escondido may need to share hotel tax revenue with San Diego due to the land-use issues, Escondido would be guaranteed 100% of the hotel tax revenues from a resort at the country club. And there may even be an interim benefit to the downtown area, still in search of its own quality hotel, since the country club is just 4.3 miles away from Downtown Escondido.

There is also an added benefit to Escondido: A resort hotel at the country club would be a mere 3.5 miles to Cal State San Marcos. As the university and the City of San Marcos continue to grow, Escondido could benefit via significant new hotel taxes by offering the only high-end lodging of its kind in the immediate vicinity.

Finally, the icing on the cake: Who says the two hotel projects are mutually exclusive? If a hotel was built at the country club first, the Vineyard would remain a very viable and attractive site for a second future resort hotel development. Escondido could end up with two holes in one, so to speak.

What are your thoughts on the impending closure of the Escondido Country Club, and the potential of a resort hotel to save it? Please share your thoughts below, all constructively-stated ideas and viewpoints welcome:

Join the discussion! 11 comments so far...

  1. Thank you for getting the conversation started about what I consider a very important topic. While I have not had a great deal of time to "do my homework" about this issue, I must admit that I have strong feelings about the topic. The north end of town is by far my favorite part of Escondido and I hope that whatever plans that come to pass do not include any high rise apartments or condos. I like the ideas brought forth in your article and I look forward to hearing from other folks who like me, love Escondido AND enjoy engaging in respectful, problem solving dialog with the goal of making our community even "Grander". Thanks for the venue.

    Comment by Leila Sackfield on March 3, 2013 at 4:14 PM

  2. As a resident of North Escondido, I enjoy having the Country Club nearby to plan events and the beautiful open space the golf course affords. I have friends that were raised in the neighborhood and they can't imagine having it all bulldozed. If your idea could become a reality, it would surely be welcomed by all Escondido residents. I also think our city infrastructure(schools) would struggle to support 100's of condos in that space. However, having a hotel would likely be welcome by surrounding residents and would not place a burden on infrastructure in the way condos would. We have more than enough apartments and condos, as well as vacant homes, but no quality hotels...such a good idea!

    Comment by Cathy Hamilton on March 4, 2013 at 8:26 PM

  3. I would love to see a nice RB Inn style hotel in Escondido as well as save the Country Club. No question it needs some major upgrades to make it to that level. I just worry that it is a little out of the way whereas the Vineyard is close to Safari Park, Lake Hodges, Ofelia Winery, and the mall. And maybe in a little fancier neighborhood of houses. Remember RB Inn is supported by a lot of large businesses in RB. Escondido won't have that business support, especially up in North Escondido.

    Comment by Karen Briley on March 4, 2013 at 10:21 PM

  4. My parents purchased a home on the golf course in the early 80’s and very much enjoyed the club. I now own the house and have always enjoyed the beauty of the view of the course from the house. I was shocked when I heard they are closing the club and know if my mother and father were alive they would be also. I can’t imagine putting homes on that beautiful piece of land I think it would be a tragedy, the idea of a hotel is great and would fit right in, I can’t imagine the city allowing housing on that land. I also think whoever voted in favor of replacing the golf course with homes would be committing political suicide. My question is who will maintain the course while this is all sorted out, I would assume the current owners.

    Comment by Richard Chace on March 9, 2013 at 12:13 PM

  5. That seems like a great idea to me. I hope that there are some people on the Council and elsewhere who are looking for ways to save the Country Club.

    Comment by Meg Decker on March 11, 2013 at 6:58 PM

  6. I grew up in the country club neighborhood. My dad still lives in my childhood home on Gary Lane. I spent my summers swimming at the country club and playing tennis. We used to take family walks on the golf course, when it was open to the neighborhood. It was a beautiful place to grow up. I am deeply saddened at the thought of it no longer being part of our community. The thought of loading it with houses is really upsetting. A hotel would be a better solution. Condos would be horrible. They would take away the views for existing homes and we do not have capacity in our local schools to support more students. Let's hope that the city and property owners will think about what would be best for our community instead of the amount of money they can make.

    Comment by Anita Roberts on March 11, 2013 at 7:01 PM

  7. An extension of the hotel idea: Escondido has been talking about becoming a winemaking area in recent years, but land is hard to come by. Perhaps half of the golf course could become vineyards, shrink the remaining golf course to a 9-hole course to make it more economically feasible, but also implement the idea in my article above to raze today's country club and replace it with a Rancho Bernardo Inn-style country club, hotel and conference center. Regardless of the exact use, there has to be some way to preserve the majority of the land as open space and please the new owner's desires to make the country club more profitable. Creative ideas like this could be the ticket.

    Comment by Dave Woods on March 22, 2013 at 12:24 PM

  8. I love the idea. Being a homeowner at the country club, having it close down is a really huge blow. I'd love to see a nice revamped course/hotel move in.

    Comment by Scott Hudon on March 26, 2013 at 10:18 AM

  9. Has anyone approached the CC owners &/or D'Agosta with your ideas?

    Comment by Jan Bourgeois on April 8, 2013 at 10:33 AM

  10. ECC as a 9 hole? Great idea!

    Comment by Jon Addis on May 22, 2013 at 3:04 PM

  11. [...] Course, Dave Woods had an interesting idea–build the resort at the Escondido Country Club.  Click here for details on [...]

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