April 23rd, 2020

As Golf Communities Lose Popularity, Real-Estate Developers Change Course

Original article by Cecilie Rohwedder  for The Wall Street Journal >

Golf greens are making way for more casual, community-geared developments

In Palm Springs, Calif., Bruce Juenger and Jim Whitmoyer from Aliso Viejo are the first buyers in a new gated community, Miralon, which is turning an abandoned golf course into an olive grove with 1,150 homes. Former golf-cart paths will be walking trails and water hazards have been converted to decorative lakes at the development, which also has citrus trees and community gardens.

After research on sustainable agriculture and potential buyers, the developer, Boston-based Freehold Communities, settled on the target group’s interest in sustainability, food and a healthy outdoor lifestyle. “The Coachella Valley is chock-full of golf courses,” says Brad Shuckhart, president of the company’s California division. “We saw this as an opportunity to do something different.”

Freehold Communities studied annual water consumption and suitability for the desert habitat before deciding on 7,000 olive and citrus trees. The company commissioned a technical study from a water-engineering firm that showed the trees would use about 23% less water than the existing golf course.

Bruce Juenger and Jim Whitmoyer, with their dog, Elton. Photo: Jim Whitmoyer

Mr. Whitmoyer, 56, and Mr. Juenger, 68, bought a three-bedroom, 2,800-square-foot house with a modernist design and a view of olive trees for $730,000.

Mr. Juenger, a sales manager at a real-estate financial-services firm, is planning to use the community kitchen and gardens. His husband, Mr. Whitmoyer, an instructor with the Automobile Club of Southern California, says they also are looking forward to taking their 13-year-old bichon-poodle mix, Elton, to the three dog parks.

Read the entire article on WSJ.com >