Sunday, June 03, 2007

Finally, a TPC San Antonio Update

It's been about a year since I posted a real update on the TPC San Antonio project. Simple reason for that: there hasn't been anything to update. Seems the project was just sitting there. Lots of talk around the edges, but nothing actually happening on the ground.

The San Antonio newspaper had a couple articles the other day, one in the Business section and one a column by Richard Oliver. The Business article detailed that building was finally taking place on the site location - a month ahead of a deadline the developers had to meet to keep a non-annexation agreement in place.

Even though the city has been pressing for work to go forward, issues with the Marriott parent company have delayed developer Forestar Real Estate, formerly Lumbermen's Investment Corp., said John Pierret, executive vice president of Forestar development.

Marriott had faced some setbacks because of high oil prices following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Pierret said. The company also wanted to have full construction drawings done of the 1,000-room JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort and Spa before work began.

The hotel originally was planned with 800 rooms. The plans were expanded last year.

Pierret said he had hoped work would start last year. Marriott chose not to comment at Friday's news conference and funneled media questions through Pierret.

The JW Marriott, Marriott's high-end brand, will be one of the largest hotels in San Antonio when completed in January 2010. It will feature 138,000 square feet of meeting space, a 40,000-square-foot ballroom and a 26,000-square-foot spa. The grounds of the hotel will mirror the natural Hill Country landscape to provide a habitat for deer, birds and other wildlife.

Along with the hotel, two 18-hole courses also will be completed by 2010 to be a part of the Tournament Players Clubs network that hosts many PGA Tours. Golf industry legends Pete Dye and Greg Norman will design the courses.

Construction on the TPC golf courses was never going to start until construction on the hotel was under way; now that that's the case, construction on the Greg Norman course should begin in earnest within a month (the Pete Dye-designed course is a little behind Norman's).

Columnist Oliver writes on the long wait for action, and the impact this development is likely to have not only on San Antonio -but also the PGA Tour:


When it comes to the Cibolo Canyons PGA Tour project on the county's far north side, the scenario hasn't wavered much over the past several years.

Hurry up and wait.

But today, as dirt is finally turned in earnest on building the 1,000-room hotel, with construction on a Greg Norman-designed course set to begin by next month, it's fair to trust that the PGA Tour won't be employing the same game plan.

San Antonio has waited long enough.

The city's Valero Texas Open is currently idling as part of the tour's lightweight fall schedule, but with vibrant hopes that a slot in the coveted spring portion of the calendar will open up soon.

Friday's official announcement that grading and blasting are under way on the location for the exclusive Marriott, with peripheral construction on the golf properties pending, should carry seismic impact all the way to the tour's Florida offices.

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem and his staff, in public and private, have expressed aspirations that the San Antonio project will be a major jewel in the tour's necklace of luxury complexes strung from coast to coast.

Indeed, the Texas Open, contractually guaranteed to occupy the next prime schedule opening, knows its future is strongly linked with a move to the TPC layouts.

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