Old Sanders Ranch revived with new golf course plan, new name | AspenTimes.com

Old Sanders Ranch revived with new golf course plan, new name

Neither the national economic slump nor the proliferation of golf communities have deterred the owners of the old Sanders Ranch from forging ahead with plans for another private course.

It will be the seventh private golf community between Aspen and Glenwood Springs and the 10th golf course. (The Chenoa proposal near Spring Valley could further increase those numbers.)

But the team assembled by owners of the Sanders Ranch property believe there is a niche for their project among the true “golf snobs.”

“We’re not trying to be a country club community,” said Joe Buchanan, director of sales and marketing for the project, which is called the Bair Chase Golf and Rod Club. “This will appeal to the golf purist.”

Only 345 memberships will be sold to Bair Chase. That will make it one of the most exclusive in the state, Buchanan said.

But membership doesn’t come with lots of frills. That keeps the operating costs down, and the savings are passed on to members.

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While places like the Maroon Creek Club near Aspen charge around $225,000 and the Roaring Fork Club in Basalt asks members to fork out about $200,000, Bair Chase is charging $52,500 out-of-pocket for its first 75 members. Those inaugural members are getting half of the up-front fee of $105,000 refunded.

Buchanan said buyers are responding – 50 membership were reserved as of mid-February. The goal is to sell all membership within four years.

@ATD Sub heds:Quite a comeback

@ATD body copy: Bair Chase represents a new name and drastically altered plan for the 285-acre property located at the confluence of the Roaring Fork River and Cattle Creek. Bair Chase is located about 10 miles east of Glenwood Springs on Highway 82.

Managing partner George Hanlon sought approval in the late-1990s for a significantly larger project that included a huge retail center. Citizen activists rallied hundreds of opponents. Garfield County ultimately rejected that proposal.

Hanlon and partner Kenneth “Buddy” Barfield adjusted their vision and got the golf community approved with no objections and hardly any attention from the public.

They not only changed the components of the proposal, they scrapped the Sanders Ranch name. Bair and Chase were names of two old ranching families that once worked the property.

@ATD Sub heds:Emphasis on golf

@ATD body copy: Buchanan and Bair Chase general manager Jim Wells said their project is somewhat of an oddity because it emphasizes golf rather than real-estate development.

The golf course will be developed and opened first. Then work will commence on the real estate.

Real-estate development will flank one side of only four holes. It won’t be scattered among the whole course nor will it create what Wells described as the condo canyon effect of other golf communities.

Groundbreaking on the golf course is scheduled this spring. Play could begin by fall 2003. The course is being designed by Rees Jones, the latest hot new designer in golf circles.

While other golf communities in the valley were required during the governmental review processes or volunteered to allow limited amounts of public play, Bair Chase proudly flaunts its exclusivity.

The limited memberships mean that tee times won’t be available. Club members will be encouraged to hit the links when the urge strikes.

Buchanan expects the project to appeal to people already living or visiting the Roaring Fork Valley – those who “really love golf.” He and Wells predicted that 25 percent of Bair Chase members will be people who belong to another club in the valley.

@ATD Sub heds:Real estate is the cream

@ATD body copy: While the golf course is Bair Chase’s bread and butter, the real estate is the cream.

Garfield County approved 56 “cottages” of between 2,200 and 2,700 square feet. They are similar in concept, though not design, to the “cabins” of the same size that the Roaring Fork Club successfully developed on its Basalt property.

Like the Roaring Fork Club’s luxury cabins, Bair Chase’s cottages and clubhouse will be designed by Aspen’s Bill Poss.

The cottages will be developed and sold by Bair Chase. Some will be sold in whole while others will be sold in one-fourth fractional ownership.

They also have approvals for 33 single-family home lots. The property will be sold, and buyers will develop the homes.

The county approval also allows up to 14 lodge units to be developed in the signature barn on the property. The big red barn with the “U 76” painted in white stands out from the highway.

Wells said the plan is to move the barn to a different part of the property and build the clubhouse where the barn now rests. He acknowledged that the barn might not survive the move.

Bair Chase also plans to build 120 affordable-housing units on the western part of the property, near the Sopris Restaurant.