Plans for the US Golf Association’s second headquarters are being forwarded to Pinehurst Village Council with the approval of the Pinehurst Planning and Zoning Committee.
On Thursday, the Planning Committee unanimously agreed to recommend that the village approve a proposed 6.3 acres off Carolina Vista Drive for the Pinehurst Golf House project. The area is part of the current Pinehurst Country Club campus and is currently home to six tennis courts and a gravel car park.
Most of the area is currently designated as a recreational area, with small areas for the hotel and office professional districts. The application by Bob Koontz of Koontz Jones Design on behalf of the USGA is for rezoning to a conditional, mixed-use borough by the village.
Moving the Mission forward
The project comprises two two-story buildings with a total area of 40,500 square meters: a combined welcome center and museum as well as a golf equipment test facility.
Last September, the USGA announced it would build a second headquarters in Pinehurst to promote and promote the game. Pinehurst Country Club will also serve as the USGA’s first “anchor” location for the US Open, with championships slated for 2024, 2029, 2035, 2041 and 2047.
“This project is about more than championships. We all know how important the US Open has been in the past, but this is much more than just championships. It’s about creating a permanent home for the vital work the USGA is doing to advance our game, ”said Rand Jerris, USGAGA’s senior management director of public services.
“It is the home of our scientific experts, our technical experts, who serve our governance and sustainability functions. It’s also a place where we golfers can connect with our museum collections, our incredibly rich historical collections, and share those rich assets that truly demonstrate our love for the game. “
The project represents a partial relocation of the US Golf Association’s base operations from its current headquarters in Liberty Corner, New Jersey. This relocation will bring the USGA Foundation and the championship team and management of the Turfgrass Agronomy Division to Pinehurst.
The designs by the Raleigh-based architecture firm Clearscapes are inspired by the village itself. The welcome center pays homage to the Pinehurst clubhouse from 1903, and the test facility is stylistically based on the Carolina Hotel. Behind a covered walkway that connects the two buildings, paths lead to a pollinator garden that is reminiscent of the undergrowth of a long-leaved pine forest.
Renderings of the proposed U.S. Golf Association facilities at Pinehurst, viewed from the north side, courtesy of Clearscapes Architecture and Art.
Pinehurst Golf House will have 50 full-time employees. The larger of the two buildings will host an indoor testing area where staff will ensure that golf balls, clubs, and other equipment that is manufactured meet the organization’s specifications.
The USGA estimates that a museum in Pinehurst could attract up to ten times as many visitors as its current museum in New Jersey. Jerris said they expect 300 museum visitors a day at best. That estimate is based on the number of visitors to California’s Pebble Beach Visitor Center, which draws about 10 percent of the area’s tourists.
Moving part of its operations to Pinehurst will enable USGA to interact with a larger sample of the golf community and improve the visibility of the organization.
“We know we can do great things for the game: we can expand the reach of our programs, we can expand the knowledge we bring to the game so that golf can continue to be successful in the future,” said Jerris.
“What is important to us is that locating these important business-critical activities in Pinehurst will improve them. They will strengthen us as an organization because we understand and appreciate how much this community, their soul and their heart are connected to the game. “
Nobody registered for a public hearing on the rezoning application on Thursday evening. But the members of the planning and zoning committee spent three hours discussing the terms with Jerris and the architects and planners working on the project. Construction of the Pinehurst Golf House is scheduled to start in mid-2022, with a 14-month construction period.
Ultimately, the Planning Committee decided to recommend seven conditions, including possible deviations from the Pinehurst Development Regulations, along with the re-zoning. This includes adding research, development, and testing of golf equipment, offices, and a welcome center to uses allowed in the Village Mixed Use District, as well as setbacks incurred in excess of the maximum limits set out in the PDO.
Like the resort-owned Lodge at Pinehurst next to Pinehurst Country Club, which was recently reviewed by the village council in another rezoning process, planners are also seeking approval for signs that are up to 50 percent larger than the PDO. The members of the planning committee recommended approving this condition for signs that appear on the master plan submitted last month.
Most of the discussions on Thursday centered on the USGA’s demands to use an alternative surface material for the parking lot and to refrain from installing sidewalks along Cherokee Road. In no case was a specific alternative plan presented so that the village workers did not support these conditions when submitting them to the planning committee.
The Pinehurst Zoning Regulations define the Village Mixed Use District as a “pedestrian area” that “emphasizes accessibility”.
However, Bob Koontz, the land planner, said the installation of sidewalks may ultimately be incompatible with the multimodal transport plan – with an emphasis on pedestrian, bicycle and golf cart traffic. The Pinehurst is scheduled to begin in 2022-2023.
The site layout presented by Clearscapes Architecture and Art for the proposed US Golf Association facilities on Carolina Vista Drive in Pinehurst.
The Cherokee Road junction with Beulah Hill also raises safety concerns given the traffic and the nearby railroad overpass. Therefore, it is currently unclear how a more comprehensive plan could guide pedestrians through this area.
“It’s not exactly defined what kind of trail would be there, and we’re also trying to work out something that would be extremely safe … to cross the railroad and Highway 5, with the bottleneck being the goat.” Bridge, ”said Koontz.
“The USGA is very willing to work with the village in every way possible to create a plan that will work for everyone. They want to have additional pedestrians and be connected to this pedestrian network in the hope of a lot of pedestrian traffic, so I think they are committed to that. “
The USGA has offered to set an easement aside should the village itself decide to install a sidewalk or other pathway in the future.
“I hesitate to get rid of the sidewalk condition … overall connectivity is something that needs to be addressed as we move forward. I appreciate the idea of easement so that it is at least there and will be finished at some point. I also don’t think that the burden should be passed on to the village and the taxpayers, ”said planning director David Alzamora.
Ultimately, the planning committee decided to recommend that instead of building a sidewalk on Cherokee Road, the USGA provide an easement of at least five feet and a financial commitment equal to 125 percent of the cost of a sidewalk for the future sidewalk construction.
“The opportunity for the village would be to have a walk-through connection that could potentially run through the property at this point that could weaken the draw frame that could weaken this corner section,” said board member Jeramy Hooper. “It could also be in another area. It allows them to negotiate with you at a later date. At the Council (level), some special features can be determined. “
The park plans are based on the size of the office space, the visitor center and the museum with one space per 300 square meters. The recommended framework conditions enable the employees working in the test facility to be taken into account when assigning offices.
Architects, however, hope not to asphalt the parking lot with asphalt. The Pinehurst Regulations require that at least 75 percent of parking spaces be asphalt. The rest can be gravel. The USGA rededication motion suggests the intention to use more “sustainable” surface material, but so far there has been no specific proposal.
“With no specific material or understanding, or even if they recommend a different percentage, I might be on the fence, but I would tend to agree with employees’ recommendations not to allow this condition,” said Board Member Matt Jones.
The proposed USGA complex would cover a similar area of impermeable surface as the approximately two hectares now covered with tennis courts and parking lots. However, Brandy Thompson, an architect at Clearscapes, said they’d like the leeway to mitigate this as the project progresses.
“I think the aim of the request is to get the right to explore further just to see how far we can take the sustainability initiative,” she said.
“Ideally, we’d like to reserve the right to consider (other materials) for the entire parking lot, but in practice, if we deal with it, it will get into a much more focused area, I suspect.”
Board member Julia Latham pushed for a condition that would allow architects to pursue that goal but leave final approval to engineering experts.
“I don’t think this particular applicant really wants to put himself in a broken locker and get himself into a parking lot that will be a terrible disaster and sink their project,” she said. “I have great confidence in this applicant that this project will be a complete success.”
The planning committee eventually voted to recommend a condition that would allow further discussion between the project’s planners and the Pinehurst technical review committee. If no alternative is approved by this committee, the requirements will by default correspond to the information in the PDO.