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Sanders Ranch fore-ges ahead as exclusive Bair Chase golf community

It will be all golf, nothing but golf.

No tennis, no pool.

Just golf.



That is the new iteration of the once-contentious Sanders Ranch development. It has evolved into a trimmed-down, super-exclusive golf course community that is set to break ground this spring.

“The concept here is a very private, exclusive golf club,” so exclusive there will be no tee times, said sales and marketing director Joe Buchanan.



“There’s a big interest in this kind of golf for the right person,” he added. “You just drive up and play.”

The public will not be allowed to play, even with a member.

Despite the abundance of golf courses, exclusive and otherwise, in the valley, Buchanan has already sold 50 memberships, which go for $105,000 a pop, with no marketing effort. Only 345 memberships will be sold.

Unlike neighboring Aspen Glen, home ownership does not include membership in the golf club.

Nor is it a golf club in the usual sense. There will be no tennis courts or swimming pool, said Buchanan, just golf.

“Because we’re not doing a country club we’ll have lower operating costs, and therefore lower dues,” Buchanan said.

Local golf memberships go for about $200,000 at both the Maroon Club and the Roaring Fork Club, he added.

The project has also acquired a new name, Bair Chase Golf and Rod Club, in honor of former owners of the ranch, Elmer Bair and Clyde Chase, Buchanan said.

Once upon a time, Sanders Ranch, the megasubdivision and commercial development of George Hanlon, so angered local citizens that they turned out by the hundreds at a series of public meetings to protest. The plan was roundly vetoed by the Garfield County commissioners in the spring of 2000.

The old plan called for more than 500 homes and 700,000 square feet of commercial space on the 282-acre ranch, effectively creating a new town between Glenwood Springs and Carbondale.

For almost a year nothing was heard from Hanlon, who spent the time putting pencil to paper and coming up with a new, improved plan.

Last June he presented his latest concept to the county commissioners. It outlined 230 homes and no commercial development.

He also presented the Roaring Fork Conservancy with a 54-acre conservation easement, which will keep land along both the Roaring Fork River and Cattle Creek free of development.

A public hearing in June drew nary a citizen, for or against, and the commissioners quietly, and unanimously, approved the new plan.

Now that plan has been fleshed out to include 33 homes, 56 interval-ownership “cottages,” 14 hotel rooms and a Rees Jones-designed 18-hole golf course. Jones’ father is the famous golf course designer Robert Trent Jones.

The cottages will be designed by Aspen architect Bill Poss, who designed the tony Roaring Fork Club in Basalt.

On the north end of the property, separate from the golf club, will be a complex of approximately 150 “affordable” apartments, of which 23 will be deed-restricted to cap appreciation.

Access to the subdivision was a bone of contention under the Sanders Ranch plan. Its 500-plus homes would have ramped up traffic on Highway 82.

The new plan indicates two access points, with the primary entrance from Highway 82 at Cattle Creek, which will have a traffic signal and turning lanes, said Bair Chase general manager Jim Wells.

Cars will turn at a new intersection at the north end of the property just south of the Sopris Restaurant, and head east to the lumberyard and body shop or west into the apartment complexes and the restaurant. Drivers will no longer have to contend with cutting through the median and dodging highway traffic in front of the Sopris.

Also planned is a trail that will follow the railroad tracks that cut through the property from north to south. The soft-bed trail will be open to the public, Wells said.

Wells said the golf course and clubhouse will be completed before any lots are sold. Groundbreaking is expected this spring or early summer.

If all goes as planned, golfers should be able to tee off in the fall of 2003, Wells said.

A preliminary plan for the homes, cottages and the apartment complex will go before the county planning commission this summer.

Single-family homesites will be about a half-acre. Homes on those lots will come in about the same average size as neighboring Aspen Glen, about 3,500 square feet, Wells said. The three-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bath cottages will average about 2,400 square feet in size.

While some would question why the valley needs another golf course, Wells sees them as a value-added amenity.

“Golf gives the community the closest thing to open space,” he said.


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