New River Valley Ranch golf owners envision hotel, resort for Carbondale
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
Dan and Wynee Coleman have big plans to rejuvenate the River Valley Ranch golf course.
After several months of uncertainty and a change in ownership, the golf course is on track to open in April.
The former Pan and Fork Restaurant, now The Homestead Bar and Grill, will offer Valentine’s Day dinners, and open for limited hours near the end of February as it transitions to a year-round restaurant.
The Colemans want to help RVR thrive not just as a golf course, but be more inclusive of the 85 percent of the neighborhood residents who don’t golf, and potentially as a health and wellness resort for the community.
They also want to pursue building a boutique health and wellness hotel on the driving range.
“I believe when we get the ultimate, final mix of hiking, trails, golf, a hotel, and everything, it will increase the property values of River Valley Ranch,” Coleman said.
Like many neighborhoods with golf courses, RVR has been facing a squeeze as fewer people choose golf, Coleman said.
The previous owner, Dale Rands, approached the homeowners group, RVR Masters Association (RVRMA) last year with a number of proposals, including having the homeowners subsidize the golf course and developing about 13 acres of the driving range for high-density housing.
The community rejected the proposals.
RVR Golf is now officially owned by Crystal Outdoors LLC, a group of investors including the Colemans, Wynee’s brother and a friend of Dan’s. The LLC bought RVR Golf from Rands in November for $3.5 million, according to Garfield County records.
At the time of sale, Rands agreed to hold a portion of the sale price on loan in case Crystal Outdoors was unable to become profitable. But Coleman expects to own the course completely in the coming months.
OBSTACLES TO DEVELOPMENT
The prospect of developing a hotel on the driving range, which would require a rezoning under the planned unit development codes and the Carbondale Board of Trustees’ approval. Before any rezoning is presented to the town, at least 50 percent of the RVR community must approve of development — a difficult prospect.
“If (Crystal Outdoors) has a specific proposal, we will be happy to look at it,” said Gary Lessor, RVRMA member and chairman of the golf committee.
When polled last summer after Rands proposed building housing units, the RVR community was against development, Lessor said.
“It’s a pretty big uphill fight,” Lessor said.
Wynee Coleman said they have not approached the community about the hotel, but will have a series of gatherings to gauge the community’s thoughts.
“Getting everybody’s input will be part of the process for the next year,” Wynee said.
A hotel might draw more visitors to the golf course and help the greater Carbondale area’s tourism business, she said.
limited green in golf
The neighborhood golf committee commissioned a report from Billy Casper Golf on the feasibility and market value of the course.
“On the value of the golf course to a third-party investor, Billy Casper concluded that it was roughly zero,” Paul Perry, RVR resident and member of the neighborhood golf committee, said in describing the report.
In the best-case scenario, which assumed an increase in the number of rounds played on the course, the course would sometimes be profitable and sometimes lose money, Perry said.
Dan Coleman said he has seen the Billy Casper report, and that it reaffirmed what his team is doing.
“They say in that report, ‘Do whatever you have to do to save your golf course,’” he said. If the course goes, the property values would drop, which is a bigger source of concern for the community, he said.
In addition to the hotel, Coleman said he wants to keep the golf shop open year-round and perhaps rent snowshoes in the winter and cross-country skiing gear to traverse the trails that spring up around the golf course in the off months.
“We’re really excited at all the potential, and finally having an opportunity to turn this into something good,” said Julie Warren, founder of Carbondale’s Personal Rehab Center. She is helping The Homestead transition to a year-round restaurant.
Warren’s husband, Red Cunningham, is leasing the course to run the golf business. He believes it will be better as a locally owned and managed course.
“This is the first time in the 22-year history of RVR that the people whose financial butts are on the line live here in town,” Cunningham said.
For the past several years, how to help the neighborhood thrive has been a household conversation, Wynee Coleman said.
It was about “how do we save it, and make it better,” she said. “It just needs a way where it move forward, and find a path for it to be sustainable. And, hopefully, where everybody can be happy.”
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