Event barn approved in Lac La Belle
New restaurant also in plans

By Kelly Smith - Special to Conley Media

Feb. 6, 2019

A promotional banner illustrates the interior and exterior of “The Carriage House” event barn proposed by the Prestwick Group and approved by the Lac La Belle Plan Commission.
Kelly Smith/Special to Conley Media

LAC LA BELLE — The Prestwick Group’s plans to build a 5,500-square-foot event barn next to the Club at Lac La Belle Golf Course, in addition to renovating the golf course club house and constructing new parking lots for the facilities, have been approved by the village.

The two-story, wood-frame event facility, called “The Carriage House,” will accommodate about 240 guests and include a “Grand Hall,” coat room, bathrooms, and a kitchen facility, on the upper level.

The lower level will be used primarily for golf cart storage, but will have several bathrooms, a storage room, and a “Brides Room,” according to Village Engineer Mark Mickelson of Short Elliott Hendrickson Inc.

The renovation plan for the clubhouse includes a new restaurant, “Willie’s Pub,” to be located on the east side of the building, replacing the existing golf pro shop.

The restaurant is named after Willie Anderson, a Scottish-born golfer who was a teaching professional at the golf course and won four U.S. Open Championships during the early 1900s.

The Carriage House is named in honor of a carriage house that was located on the property of one of the founders of the golf course, which was established more than 120 years ago and is one of the oldest in the state, according to Matt Morse, president and founder of the Prestwick Group.

Morse pledged to village officials the event barn would be a “five star” facility located near the newly constructed golf course that would be “a landscape masterpiece.”

Matt Morse, founder and president of Prestwick Group, describes to Lac La Belle plan commissioners the details of his company’s plans to build an event barn and renovate the clubhouse at the Club at Lac La Belle Golf Course, owned by the company.
Kelly Smith/Special to Conley Media

According to the plans, the existing banquet hall in the clubhouse will be maintained but toilets and showers in the basement will be removed.

Three new parking lots will be built to serve the facilities with only the existing handicapped parking north of the clubhouse remaining.

The plans were unanimously approved by the Plan Commission during an 80-minute meeting Monday night, barely 72 hours after the plans were revealed to commission members and village residents.

Village Attorney Hector de la Mora told The Freeman the commission’s final decision is not subject to review by the Village Board and the commission’s unusual Monday night meeting was held to accommodate Prestwick’s hopes of having the event barn opened by late August.

Prestwick President Tyler Morris said after the meeting he was “very excited” about the commission’s approval and hopes to break ground on the event barn as soon as possible, perhaps this week.

Morris acknowledged that 29 weddings were booked for the event barn before it was approved by the village.

Overall development proposal

The event barn and clubhouse renovations are part of an overall development proposal by Prestwick that includes reconstruction of the historic 18-hole golf course and the construction of a corporate headquarters adjacent to the golf course.

The company, presently headquartered in Sussex, uses recycled materials to manufacture outdoor furniture and equipment for golf courses.

Some residents have criticized village officials for their lack of transparency in discussing the extensive development agreement the village privately negotiated with the Prestwick Group during late 2017 and early 2018 before it was publicly approved in early May of 2018.

However, while some of the 19 residents attending the meeting Monday night raised questions about the details of the plan, none voiced objections to the event barn and clubhouse renovations.

Only two commissioners, Robert Butendorf and Mark Wille, both also village trustees, posed extensive, sometimes detailed questions about the plans.

They both expressed support for the plans.