A developer working for the Kendall-Jackson wine family announced plans Wednesday to downsize a housing project proposed for the former Wikiup Golf Course, drawing mixed reactions from about 130 community members at a neighborhood meeting.
The new plan would cut the number of houses by almost 40 percent in a move to address concerns from neighbors that the development could convert what was once a lush golf course to high-density housing with additional traffic.
“We went back to the engineers and the architects,” Tony Korman, who leads WBR and Korman Development, told the crowd gathered at San Miguel Elementary School on Wednesday afternoon. “We went back to look at the plan and make some revisions.”
The new plan is a scaled-back version of the project pitched to residents in July. In that design, nearly 100 homes would have been split between two locations on the property, named the Wikiup Commons.
At one location, a cluster of 39 homes — eight of which would host secondary or “granny” units — would have been placed on the northern end of the property near Pheasant and Carriage lanes. The new plan cut the number of houses there by 10 and included provisions that would keep the homes to a single story.
Revisions also included downsizing a second collection of 59 homes envisioned for the southern part of the property, near Carriage Lane. The new plan outlined space for 35 homes, moving units further away from the Mark West Creek, where several residents enjoy a trail near the water’s edge.
A portion of the property, about 16 acres, could be converted into a neighborhood park if the plan is approved. Korman told the crowd he intends to remove a small pond on the property near Carriage Lane, resulting in audible disapproval from some audience members.
“This is the first time he casually mentioned getting rid of the pond,” Sandy Steele, a Larkfield-Wikiup resident, said after the meeting. “That’s part of the tranquility and the peace of the area.”
Her husband, Craig Steele, said the revisions are a “step in the right direction,” but expressed concerns about the impact of additional traffic in the area. Many residents had trouble evacuating during the October wildfires because of the number of limited exits from the neighborhood.
Ellen Badgley echoed those concerns, saying her house nearly caught fire when the flames crept near her Vista Grande Drive home, located north of the former golf course. She opposed the housing development, saying additional homes in the area would make it even harder to evacuate if another emergency were to arise.
“I know that we need to rebuild in this community but I’m more worried whether all of us can get out of here if another fire happens,” she said.
Wednesday’s gathering was the last of three community meetings held by the project’s organizers to gather input from residents, though they’ve met with smaller groups on three additional occasions, Korman said.
WBR LLC, a company owned by the Jackson family of Jackson Family Wines, purchased the former 9-hole Wikiup Golf Course in 2015 for $4.5 million. Korman, who was director of real estate for Kendall-Jackson Wine Estates from 1996 to 2002, is leading the development.