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Hidden Creek Country Club Sold; ‘New Housing Choices’ Listed as Possible for Future

by Dave Emke October 25, 2017 at 10:15 am 76 Comments

Hidden Creek Country Club, one of Reston’s two golf courses, is now under new ownership.

According to an email sent by the country club to its members Tuesday, real-estate developer Wheelock Communities purchased the club earlier this week from its previous owner, Fore Golf Partners. According to the email, signed by Fore Golf CEO Charlie Staples:

Wheelock owns properties along the East Coast and in Texas that range from private golf clubs to large master-planned communities, to luxury waterfront condominiums and urban mixed-use projects. They look forward to becoming part of the highly respected Reston community.

Fore Golf will continue to manage the club for the new owner, according to the email, and club memberships will be unaffected by the change in ownership.

In the email, it is announced that Wheelock plans to invest more than $300,000 in upgrades to the club. This is to include upgrades to the club’s dining and events facilities, the lobby, and the locker rooms. A new fleet of golf carts is also expected to arrive in December.

More “potential changes” are listed, though:

Over the next few years, Wheelock will be working in partnership with the club members and the Reston community to explore potential changes to the property that could provide the Reston community with additional public amenities, environmental benefits and new housing choices.

It has long been feared by community advocates including Rescue Reston that both Hidden Creek and Reston National Golf Course will become the sites of residential development as Reston expands. A specific question about Hidden Creek’s future came up during Monday’s community meeting about potential changes to Reston’s Planned Residential Community (PRC) district. Fred Selden, director of Fairfax County’s Department of Planning & Zoning, said any developer that wishes to build residential units upon Reston’s golf courses would have hurdles to overcome.

“One of the things that the plan that was adopted in 2015 did was explicitly call the golf courses as planned for golf courses and to remain as golf courses,” Selden said. “I can only speak to what kind of development can occur. It’s planned for a golf course. If somebody wants to develop it in some other fashion, they have two options: They have to prove that they have some kind of property rights to build, or they have to come in and request a change to the Comprehensive Plan.”

The new ownership team is offering Hidden Creek members the chance to meet them for the first time next week.

  • Donald

    “…Backed by the financial strength of Wheelock Street Capital, we
    add value to residential communities in high-demand locations
    through an exceptional network of local development partners,
    land planners and home builders…”

    Donald

    • John Higgins

      Donald, I have to hand it to you…you called this one. While everyone was fretting over RNGC, you were prodding us to keep an eye on HCCC. Maybe if more of us (any of us) had paid attention, Wheelock would not be salivating at this development potential.

      • Donald

        It just justifies my point, which I’ve shared, ad nauseam. This RA board has to regroup and get out in front of these matters. They are too engrossed with micro-cost-cutting initiatives and changing business processes (staff responsibilities) and not doing what they need to be doing — looking at the Community’s future.

        Hey, RA board. Stop micro-managing the staff, and start looking 5, 10, 20 years out!

        Donald

      • John Farrell

        And how would we do that exactly?

      • Ray Wedell

        Amen, John. The rumor mill that Charlie Staples had major cash flow issues and wanted out of HCCC have been floating around a lllliong time. And specific sitings of potential buyers being on site and doing detailed surveys of the course, etc. have been floating around the past 2-3 months.

        I love how so many people ridicule such on-the-ground intelligence and application of common sense as “rumor mongering” (or something similar). It is as if since THEY hadn’t heard about it, it didn’t exist. Maybe next time, potential buyers will make sure they invite County officials for tea and crumpets, wait six months for answers, then clear their intentions with attorneys before embarking on a move to acquire a prime property like this. Since they did not do so in this case, it is obvious that we COULD NEVER have predicted it. Right?

    • Restonlover

      If you look at their press releases, you will find they sold Wieland to Pulte…in 2016. Pulte already owns some property at the back end. Pulte also has a relationship with JBG which owns Fairway

      • restonista

        Excellent point! I had forgotten about the existing Pulte property. Also, wasn’t there a planned or road discussed that cut right through HCGC at some point recently??

        • Restonlover

          yep…
          my personal opinion is that County won’t fight this one and will work to preserve South Reston

          • John Farrell

            Based on what?

            How do these guys get around the recently adopted comprehensive plan designation of this property as golf course and open space.

          • Restonlover

            poor documentation…that’s what causes issues with South golf course. Hidden Creek is even further back

          • John Farrell

            Nope – any problem was corrected in the recent Reston Comp Plan rewrite that specifically designated both golf courses as golf course/open space – check it out.

          • Onereally

            If a 9-hole GC stays isn’t it still a open space and golf course?
            Nothing says it has to be 18 holes……
            Not being a pain just asking a question.

          • Donald

            Onereally, that’s a viable argument.

            Donald

          • John Higgins

            I like your marketing angle, with a small modification: “just a mile (30 minutes by car at rush hour) from Metro.” 🙂

          • John Higgins

            A nine-hole golf course has all the appeal of a go-cart track to a NASCAR fan. We don’t know what Wheelock has in mind, but I’m attracted to the idea of building UP rather than OUT. I can imagine a ten-story luxury condo sitting atop a first class country club facility (as Mr. Wedell discussed); deck parking where blacktop now sits. Every square yard of open space could be preserved. Of course they might have to deal with the foolishness of affordable housing units in a luxury country club setting. All this discussion is for naught, but it’s fun.

          • OneReally

            I agree on the lack of appeal. Just saying I could see as a card the county could play.

            Happen to a few courses in Loundon Co.

        • Restonlover

          They will develop the back part and Fairway…the front part will stay 9 hole golf course and still be able to drain Lake Anne….

  • Thanks and talk later,

    Perhaps some motivated tennis players cam band together and revamp, renovate and paint their antiquated tennis structures to allow for 24×7 indoor play. No other opportunities nearby,,,

    • Donald

      So, I’m curious what the RA board will say about this.

      Donald

      • Thanks and talk later,

        We dont need any of their opinion pieces because, as we all know, the membership will be charged a lofty premium for any of these discussions even if their out of scope. After all, we re dealing with an H○A not a township. Less is more

        • John Farrell

          Actually these kinds of issues are well within the “purpose” language of the governing documents. Take a read.

      • Mike M

        Might be driven by whether or not they can “tax” it.

      • Ray Wedell

        Donald, is that a serious question?

    • Greg

      Shhh—RA will hear you and spend millions to meet that (imagined) need.

  • Huh

    Why would they spend $300k to upgrade the club if they planned to sell it off to build condos?

    • Reston Realist

      It will be quite some time (if ever) before they get approval to redevelop the property. In the interim they need to refurbish the facilities in order to attract new members and retain the existing membership.

      • Donald

        Wouldn’t be so sure about that. Look at the golf course areas closest to Sunset Hills and Metro Stations.

        Imagine residential near Metro, a nine hole executive golf course, and new RA facilities.

        Donald

        • Reston Realist

          We’ll see… I can’t disagree with you on that – It would be very logical. Sad, but logical.

        • Greg

          No. Just no on “new RA facilities.”

          • Donald

            Not saying I like the idea. Just looks like a viable possibility.

            Donald

        • Onereally

          I thought the same thing. Executive 9-hole course. They will call it a win win for everyone.

    • John Higgins

      I regret it even before saying it, but $300k buys very little in terms of renovating a private club. I thought that might have been a typo; anything below $3 million and no one will notice the changes.

      • Donald

        There is something going on here. I see the potential argument for redevelopment – open space is protected, southern side is developed, RA gets new amenities and more tax and assessment revenues.

        Donald

    • Restonlover

      $300,000 is a lot to you and I but a pittance for an investor

      • Ray Wedell

        The HCCC facilities are pitiful and have needed upgrading for a decade at least. $300,000 is nothing compared to what is actually needed.

    • tattler

      They’re just putting a little lipstick on the pig before taking it to market

  • Chkitout1

    More Reston development without any infrastructure improvements. It is a terrible shame what is happening to a place called Reston. My condolences to the property owners who bought homes on the golf course.

    • Restonlover

      State laws require development before infrastructure…Need to work on legislature with Ken Plum and Ms. Howell….

  • Greendayer

    Seasoned investors don’t invest money without a pretty good idea how to make money off of their investment.
    Because these are housing/golf people, they must think they can build additional housing on the course. They don’t invest with the thought of getting more golf members at higher fees.
    Are there places on the course that more housing can be built?

    • Donald

      JBG is already approved for their redevelopment of Fairway Apartments.

      Donald

      • One LibIknow

        Fairway Apts should be imploded and then there will be a clean slate to develop market rate housing w/ a golf course and clubhouse lifestyle. This would be a very good thing.

    • John Farrell

      Lots of land speculators have lost lots of money taking a risk on legislative prerogatives.

  • Donald

    I’m so happy this RA board is trying to save me a few bucks by closing after school programs midway through the year.

    Heaven forbid they think strategically, and keep an eye out for our open spaces.

    Donald

  • Scout

    So is this the sale of Hidden Creek that all the county staff and Ms Hudgins denied knowing anything about at the. density meeting on Monday! The said they didn’t anything about a pending sale – The emperor has no clothes, again.

    • John Farrell

      What evidence do you have that they knew about it?

      You’d be surprised how many transaction are covered by confidentiality agreements that don’t see the light of day until the deed is recorded.

      • Restonlover

        Mr Farrell – the rumor has been flowing thru peons for over two weeks…Ms Hudgins has to have had inquiries at her office. If not, shows that no one gives her credence

        • John Farrell

          I’m a real estate/land use attorney representing Reston landowners and this peon heard not a whisper.

          • Restonlover

            I am very aware of your excellent credentials on our behalf. But, the whispers have been around for several weeks. I was not surprised that it came out at the meeting on Monday. i was also very close to the front and watched Ms. Hudgins and Mr. Seton. Would be interested to know who was the woman in between them who was not introduced and did not have a placard in front of her seat

          • The Competition

            You’re out of the loop, Lawyer John! Maybe its time to retire from your practice…LOL

        • Ray Wedell

          Make that two months. As a former HCCC member, I was fielding calls from some who remain members two months ago, saying Charlie Staples was actively wining and dining potential buyers. “Do you know any details on this?” they were asking. Whether or not the buyers sent an engraved note to Hudgins, or specifically notified local Land Use Attorneys, it was clearly in the works and anyone even slightly “on the inside” in Reston should have known about it.

  • RoadApples

    Excellent property to be redeveloped into more dense mid rise residential and commercial. Congrats on the growth into th e 21st Century .

  • Donald

    So, who’s going to pose the question to the RA board at their meeting tomorrow evening?

    Donald

    • John Farrell

      You’re getting way ahead of yourself.

      • Donald

        I hope you’re right.

        • John Farrell

          It’s not on the RA Board Agenda and couldn’t be since the sale wasn’t known at the BOC meeting when tomorrow night’s agenda was set.

          • Donald

            You miss my point. I want to know, on the record, are they involved in any way with the county and/or the new owners. I want to know, on the record, their commitment to preserve all of the open space.

            Should be easy answers, right?

            Donald

          • John Farrell

            Given RA’s involvement in support of Rescue Reston, it’s hard to imagine that they won’t take the same position regarding HCC. Just not tomorrow night.

          • Donald

            Well, I hope you’re right.

            Unfortunately, it seems to me these days, zoning documents, comprehensive plans, etc., appear to be nothing more than negotiation instruments and starting points for interested parties.

            Donald

  • MovingSoon

    Every other day seems to be new news regarding a developer or development in Reston. That’s cool and all, but not when it takes 30 minutes to commute less than 5 miles.

    If I wanted to live in an overdeveloped area with frustrating traffic and overpriced parking (rtc) I would have chose DC or Manhattan.

  • the dude

    I live near Hidden Creek and I don’t want to see it go…. but I’ve heard from people in the know that it hasn’t been profitable for years…. Like so many things in Reston that local don’t support….what are the owner to do? Keep loosing money forever to keep the space open….maybe a use that keeps 50% open with some housing is something I could swallow,…but i’m sure they’ll want to cover the whole thing in condos.

    • Ray Wedell

      Ownership ran this place down, and did nothing at anytime to make the facilities or golf course worth the price they are charging members. The owner has been waiting for the right opportunity to sell for years. He is hemorrhaging loses on other golf course properties he owns, and was unwilling to put any money into HCCC. It was mere cash-flow generator for him until he could sell it.

      • Tammi Petrine

        Same pattern as Tall Oaks Shopping Center. And then new owner complains that no retail wants to be there to sell the Planning Commission and BOS (who need NO encouragement) to let them overdevelop residential without adequate new infrastructure. Sigh.

        • Donald

          This could give owners of RNGC some ideas. Major development at, and around, existing club house and driving range and parking lot, preserving the rest of the golf course.

          In both cases, the RA is the biggest affected party. So where are they?

          Donald

          • Ray Wedell

            Donald, forget RA as any sort of player or leader in this. Once we accept that given, we can develop real strategies and solutions.

          • Donald

            Ray, it’s all about which entity has legal standing.

            Seriously, RA has the greatest standing in court. Not you, not me.

            This RA board has to be made to understand that.

            Donald

        • Ray Wedell

          Tammi. We can beat this one. This buyer is a home builder, and my guess is that Charlie Staples did not do any sort of exhaustive search for buyers. My guess is also that this is a good ole boy company that has been misled to think they can easily just slap up a bunch of houses around the course. When they get confronted by the type of land use resistance you guys know how to throw at him, he may regret the purchase and seek to flip it.

          There are players….real players…. who can be convinced to leave this as a golf course, improve it to tour-quality condition (may require shutting the course down section-by-section for a year or two….Staples so screwed up the turf and ground there), and market the membership as THE must-have membership in this area. This is a way better location than Trump National (the former Lowe’s Island), and look what was accomplished there. HCCC is a great golf course lay-out….. I was a member of RTJ in Lake Manassas for 20 years. If they could sell so many top executives, athletes, business leaders, lobbyists, etc to that far away location at that price, please do not tell me it cannot be done here. And another wild card: Amazon is likely to place their second headquarters nearby. IF that happens, add how many easy dozens of members will surface from their pool of 50,000 employees ?

          This Wheelock deal can and should be undone.

  • Ray Wedell

    Such a shame nobody has real foresight. This property is about as fantastic a lay-out for golf as one can imagine, but the current owner has let it get run down. The facilities are pitiful. Talk about a classic renovation that would benefit everyone!

    A well-heeled player could transform this into THE place to be for a private club. There is so much business being done in Reston, and so much to be done in the future. It could be the “must-have” corporate membership as well; a jewel that needs no housing and in fact, forbids it in the by-laws (as does RTJ in Lake Manassas).

    I would love the opportunity to bring THAT possibility up to the right people. The potential in this land as a great golf course and exclusive meeting place (as old line private country clubs should be) is beyond enormous. In the process, we attract more capital to Reston and preserve the environment. A total win-win that nobody is even considering.

    • Donald

      Ray, great vision, doubt it will happen.

      Wheelock is a developer, not a golf course property owner. They build residential communities. Go to their website, read the news about their recent accomplishments. They have grand plans for the property. Golf is just a small component.

      http://wheelockcommunities.com

      Donald

      • Ray Wedell

        Bring in those who see the real vision. Buy out Wheelock before they get started.

  • Conservative Senior
  • Greg

    It’s pretty clear what the new owner wants to do:

    “Over the next few years, Wheelock will work in partnership with the Reston community and Hidden Creek club members to explore potential changes to the property that could provide the Reston community with additional public amenities, environmental benefits and new housing choices.”

    • Donald

      Here’s something that got me –

      “…provide the Reston community with additional public amenities…”

      I assumed there was interest and motivation to build more housing.

      But, what are the amenities? Who, on behalf of RA, is in discussions with Wheelock?

      Donald

      • Greg

        I don’t know, but it will be interesting to see how the phrase “public amenities” is parsed.

        Both the RA and the country club are private entities.

        Will the amenities be given to the county?
        Will they be in the typical form of proffers?
        Or cash?
        Or, will they be private amenities available to RA members?

        The best gift would be city or township status for Reston.

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