Germantown golf course project could add 250 housing units

By McLean Bennett

June 23, 2019

GERMANTOWN — A local golf course and an area property management company could make potentially sweeping changes to the 18-hole BlackStone Creek Golf Club in a move that envisions bringing hundreds more rental units to Germantown someday.

The proposal — still in its “very early stages,” the village has said — could include adding an estimated 250 new apartments, rental condos and townhomes while expanding a nearby village park. BlackStone, meanwhile, would shrink to a nine-hole format and add a new clubhouse in an effort to help market itself to golfers less interested in long, 18-hole rounds.

“Golfers (are) opting for shorter rounds and evening leagues,” according to a 51-page document outlining the proposal on Germantown’s website. Besides helping the course adapt to those changes, the development could also feature a new indoor-outdoor “public clubhouse” that could include a beer garden, fire pits, game areas and opportunities to host live music.

The village has said the idea is subject to change, and the report on Germantown’s website notes some aspects of the project, including financial details, could yield more negotiations. Still, the village’s Committee of the Whole saw an outline of the plan this week, and the concept fielded additional discussion Wednesday from the Park and Recreation Commission.

The development, as currently outlined, would include building multiple new housing structures, most near the corner of Mequon and Division roads. The golf course occupies roughly 180 acres at about that location, just east of Germantown High School.

Efforts to reach administrative and development officials in Germantown late this week weren’t successful. Neither were attempts to contact officials at Black-Stone Creek or Fiduciary Real Estate Development, one of the parties named in the plan and which already manages other rental properties in the Milwaukee, Madison and Green Bay areas.

 While an outline of the proposal notes financial details are still preliminary, numbers included in the village document show the project’s potential scope. The mix of newly built housing could ring in more than $40 million in estimated value. And the village could collect new property taxes and $1.6 million in fees while also adding about 85 acres — at an $800,000 cost — to the nearby Haupt Strasse Park.

The new housing could include 162 traditional apartments, 56 rental condos and 32 townhomes. A sketched-out plan for the possibly expanded park shows a disc golf course and new soccer fields, among other amenities.

Trustee Dennis Myers on Friday said he still had questions about the concept. He pointed, for instance, to the $800,000 cost to acquire land to expand the park.

“What is it based off of ?” he said, noting he also wonders how Germantown will budget the cost and when it could take steps to authorize the plan.

He said he’d also like to see a formal draft of the proposal — something with terms more concrete than what was presented to village leaders this week — as well as field more information about how the project will fit among the other capital projects Germantown is already preparing for.

“There are more questions than answers at this time,” Myers said.

Proposed course changes not unheard of

Germantown’s website notes shrinking BlackStone could help the course adapt to the “changing” state of golf — a sport it says has been pinched by time and cost constraints on golfers.

Golf experts this week, though, didn’t agree about whether there’s really been a dip in demand for 18-hole play, though one national golf official said moves to shrink courses like BlackStone aren’t uncommon.

“The vast majority of golfers still want the full experience,” Stephen Reynolds, vice president of the golf marketing firm Buffalo Agency, said in an email to the Daily News Friday. He said data has actually shown a drop in interest among golfers recently in nine-hole rounds.

Janeen Driscoll, the U.S. Golf Association’s communications director, said 18-hole rounds were still the “clear preference” among the sport’s more avid enthusiasts, though she noted shorter rounds have remained popular with families, beginners and female golfers.

Still, Greg Nathan, chief business officer for the National Golf Foundation, said moves to cut some 18-hole courses in half aren’t unusual — especially in places where large numbers of courses can strain golf supply and demand.

“In markets with plenty of course supply,” he said, “sometimes reducing from 18 to 9 holes and investing more in the remaining 9 is a good move for the owner.”