REXFORD — In order to stay financially afloat and boost membership numbers, The Edison Club will seek to build more than 200 housing units on its property.
On Oct. 2, representatives of the long-standing 27-hole golf course and country club will make a presentation to the Clifton Park Town Board on the club’s hope to build 206 housing units of various styles on about 79 acres of the club’s 286-acre property.
According to Edison Club General Manager Craig McLean, private golf clubs nationwide are experiencing difficulty in maintaining members and, subsequently, are unable to maintain their clubs and function well.
Right now, McLean said, the club has enough members to scrape by: There are more than 360 golf members and at least another 100 who use the club’s tennis courts, pool and other amenities.
“That’s not enough members for the club to be successful,” McLean said. To be able to be successful, McLean estimated that another 75 to 100 members would have to join.
The Edison Club is seeking a “bundle community” on its property, which, in the golf industry, is a community of homes built on club property with the stipulation that all of the homeowners maintain a membership.
McLean said that the buildings will be a mix of one-story single-family homes, duplexes and condos.
The homes, which could cost anywhere from $300,000 to $400,000, will be connected to the club via a private road. They will also all have accommodations for parking and will come with a golf cart.
The homeowners will also have full access to the entire Edison Club, though the purchase price of the home will not include the cost of club membership.
Town Supervisor Phil Barrett said the club contacted the town Planning Department this week regarding the proposal, and that it was too early to have an opinion on whether the housing would be a viable solution to keeping the club afloat.
“We’ll learn more about what their plans are at the upcoming meeting. Obviously there are many issues that need to be reviewed,” Barrett said.
Barrett acknowledged that there is concern from the town over the club’s future viability, especially considering the large amount of land it has to maintain. But, while Barrett pointed out that it isn’t the town’s job to evaluate the market for golf and country clubs, he said that he could see why the bundle communities would be attractive to avid golfers.
In order to build the homes, the club must first gain town approval of the project.
The Edison Club is not alone in its dwindling membership. A 2015 story from Golfweek regarding the state of the industry indicated that, while there are plenty of golf courses all over the country, the number of people who pay to play has been going down.
According to Golfweek, the number of golfers in 2015 was down to 23 million, as opposed to 30 million in 2000. While men 65 and up were continuing to play, Golfweek said they were not being replaced with younger players when they stop.
The new homes, McLean said, are not meant to be exclusive and inaccessible.
“This is not meant to be pretentious and expensive,” McLean said.
McLean has worked in the golf club industry for more than three decades, and he said that while the concept of bundle communities is common in areas that have year-round sun such as Florida, he doesn’t know of any in the region like the one Edison is proposing.
The Edison Club will survive, he said, but the homes would allow the organization to keep up with modern demands.
“The point of all this is that we will survive regardless of the outcome,” McLean said. “But surviving is not an ambitious goal when we could become the best golf and community environment this area has ever seen, and better yet, still be a great value.”
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