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:
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