Neighbors of Parkview Golf Course who unsuccessfully fought a plan to remake it into a large housing development now appear to have a different source of anxiety.
Hunter Emerson, whose plans for 170 homes were approved by the city in April, recently sold the 80-acre course to D.R. Horton, a large national homebuilder. Eagan officials say they learned of the sale when they contacted Hunter Emerson to review steps for completing final plans for the new subdivision.
Hunter Emerson, which said this spring it hoped work on the development could begin this summer, sold the course "as a business decision," according to Scott Carlston, a partner at the Eden Prairie firm.
"The neighbors are all very upset," said Mark Skweres, an opponent of the housing project whose back yard borders the course.
Skweres said Hunter Emerson executives made promises to area homeowners about things like preserving certain trees and sticking to its preliminary plan. Now there's concern Horton could disregard those promises and alter some plans. "This has everyone on edge," Skweres said.
Horton declined requests to be interviewed.
Jon Hohenstein, director of community development, said he doesn't know whether Horton will propose any changes because it has not yet submitted final plans. He said it's not unusual for "small refinements" to be made during the final phase, even in cases where a property hasn't changed hands.
But Council Member Paul Bakken, who cast the only vote against the housing project, said he understands why Parkview's neighbors would be unsettled by the change in ownership.
"I totally get it. After going through the experience of opposing the development and winding up with a result that most of them didn't want, to see some sort of change now can be very unsettling," he said.
Bakken said he and other Eagan officials have fielded questions from area residents about the change in control of the property and have told people the new developer is bound by the same terms as Hunter Emerson. Horton would have to go through the process of applying for a plan amendment if it wanted to make more substantial changes, Hohenstein said.
But the memory of the controversial redevelopment of the old Carriage Hills golf course may be another reason Parkview's neighbors are on edge as they watch the new housing project proceed, Bakken said.
In the Carriage Hills case, the original local developer was sunk by the economic downturn after a protracted legal battle with the city, which had resisted the project. The developer eventually sold out to Lennar Corp., which wound up keeping some of the site undeveloped and building fewer houses than previously planned.
Mayor Mike Maguire said Horton's status as a large national builder should reassure people who might be worried about the change in Parkview's ownership. The Texas-based company has been building homes nationwide for about 30 years.
"This is a large national builder. I don't think there should be any doubt about their financial capacity to finish the project," Maguire said.
One possible change at Parkview could be the price range of homes to be built. In its initial proposal, Hunter Emerson said its plans called for houses from the upper $200,000s up to around $650,000. Horton appears to have moved the bottom of the price range up to around $400,000.
"The developer can make representations about price if they want during the application process, but the city cannot consider it when acting on land use applications," Hohenstein said. "So if D.R. Horton is marketing at a different price point, there is no city role in that."