Would You Re-Purpose a Golf Course for More Housing in Seattle?


Have you ever heard of the term "highest and best use?" Many times when we help clients sell their homes, we find that the value of the property may actually be higher if the property is subdivided. Even if the home is breath-taking - sometimes the property is zoned (or can be re-zoned) to a "higher" purpose.

You see this every day. I live in Redmond, WA and used to live in English Hill before we bought a 5-acre parcel in Novelty Hill. Each day, when driving down from Red-Wood Road toward Avondale Road on 116th, I would watch as the developers came in and purchased different parcels, one by one. Slowly but surely, the developers converted a home that sat on a large property into 6 to 8 brand new construction homes. It's fascinating to watch the building and exciting to see our neighbors grow in numbers (not to mention the rising home values that come with this type of growth).

But, it made me wonder - what else can you convert to highest and best use to make way for the ever-growing Northwest population? What are we willing, if anything, to give up to create more housing in this low inventory market? A park? A school? A golf course?

Converting a golf course is hardly an original idea - it's been done before. In 2014, Ridgewood Real Estate Partners of New Jersey purchased the Marriott Grande Pines Golf Club in Orlando, Florida. They subsequently re-zoned and entitled most of it for 423 single family lots, 770 multifamily units and seven acres of commercial land. Sixteen acres were sold to another developer who built a 282-unit, luxury gated apartment community.

Locally, McMenamins converted a 1931 built junior high school in Bothell into a hotel, brewery and event center. Not exactly housing, but along the same lines, and definitely a higher and better use - particularly if you are a craft beer drinker!

Conservationists, historians and golf lovers may shudder to think of re-purposing some precious parcels of land to make way for more housing. But I turn the question to you - as a buyer, as a consumer, as a Northwest citizen or as a real estate industry professional - what are your thoughts? Given the chance, would you re-purpose land to create more housing?

Kristin Bushnell is the Designated Broker of Bushnell Real Estate Solutions and Co-owner of Bushnell Craft Brewing Company in Redmond, WA.

If you are ever interested in chatting about real estate, contact me at kristinbushnell@gmail.com or call me at 425-559-1355. I'll buy you a beer, and we can chat about real estate until your heart is content.

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