By Patric Hedlund, TME
The planning committee for the Pine Mountain Club Property Owners Association proposed a $6-7 million renovation of the community clubhouse at a special meeting Saturday, Jan. 14.
Three Becomes One
It was two years ago—on January 11, 2014—that a Klassen Corporation architect reported to the PMC membership that the clubhouse structure is basically sound and would be likely to fare well in an earthquake.
The board had put aside $150,000 to seek plans for upgrades to the clubhouse.
“The next step will be to develop three models,” Director William Gurtner said in 2014 at the end of the architects’ report, then laughed as he spoke to the members: “And then you will be able to tear them to shreds.”
Two years later, Director John Cantley gave a slide show developed by PMC’s Planning Committee with Klassen’s architects. The presentation showed one proposed design—not three.
Last Saturday Cantley’s focus was on design features rather than financing, but a preliminary estimate of building costs shows that $145 to $191 would be added to the assessments of every PMC lot for 20 years to cover the new construction.
A Mountain Lodge
Cantley said members have repeatedly rejected “a country club esthetic,” so the committee and architects focused on “a mountain lodge style,” with architectural inspiration from Kern County Fire Station 58 and projects greenlighted along the Grapevine by Tejon Ranch.
The design he showed includes elevated ceilings with open beams and a full wall of windows to emphasize viewscapes of the mountains and golf course.
Of greatest importance to many, the plan finally addressed members’ 15-year request for a year-round pool. The pool size would increase by 250%. Cantley said it would be relocated to the north of the existing tennis courts, with an enlarged clubhouse on the other side, including a restaurant and lounge, dedicated rooms for clubs, activities and meetings, with a virtual reality golf simulation room.
The design described by Cantley includes a “quiet dining room” with a “telescoped, floor-to-ceiling, soundproof glass wall;” a new kitchen on the same level, “with increased capacity to allow for revenue-generating catering;” an expanded lounge with a stage; elevators and ADA compliant bathrooms.
A new two-story administrative wing “with security and privacy features,” would be built where the current pool pavilion and swimming pool now stand.
There is also a large dining deck between the pool and the kitchen, bringing a snackbar service window to the poolside.
Cantley also said the year-round access to the pool will be achieved with an inflatable dome that is resilient to snow challenges.
Cantley and Gurtner told members that the committee “wants to hear what else you want in this plan,” but they did not offer the two other options with scaled-down price tags, as promised by Gurtner in 2014.
Questions…and piling on
The presentation appeared to make a great first impression on most of the 50 to 60 members at the meeting. There were also good questions.
Shirley Armstrong jumped up to the podium to speak about several issues: “To put that much money and effort into the facility and not put in a (jacuzzi) spa area is foolish,” she said. “I think part-timers looking to buy will be looking for that, and the communities that you compared to, they will all have them.”
Gurtner said there is a debate on maintaining the health of a spa. Members noted that challenge is met at most facilities by adhering carefully to routine maintenance rules.
Armstrong also said there was no mention of a business center equipped for members’ use or for wi-fi access throughout the facility.
Gary Kemmer asked if the virtual golf room could be expanded with virtual tennis software. Cantley said they would check and that “you hit real golf balls in there.”
Kemmer also suggested a fundraising plan, by selling memorial bricks and plaques to help pay down the mortgage.
Lee Dunnavant said she has two lot assessments, so she is “a little concerned.” She asked if the additional revenue from catering services would be used to help pay down the new mortgage. She asked how the new pool would be staffed.
There was no answer, except that increased staffing would be a separate issue. She also asked when she can move in.
Thomas Greer, Connie Baldin, Kelly Hackney, Mar Preston, Brent Bennett and Eric Shulman spoke well of the plan. Richard Ballard asked about the anticipated timeline.
The POA’s annual budget process is underway, to be discussed by the community in March and April. “We have to do plans, drawings, bids,” Gurtner said. “We are in the budget for the 2017-18 cycle; I think you could see this started and finished in 2018, but that may be optimistic.”
Finn Myggen asked for the square footage increase and what impact new construction could have on lowering costs for heating and air conditioning in the clubhouse. He asked what projects in the reserve and maintenance funds [about $2.75 million] could offset some of the remodel costs.
“We haven’t put together a funding plan,” Gurtner replied. Cantley said the $6-$7 million projection is “just the architect’s preliminary estimate.”
“The numbers have not been vetted against actual building costs,” Gurtner said, “and loan rates or terms will only be available at the time the project begins.”
Member Ross Canton observed that $7 million “is about twice as much as our annual [POA] revenue.”
He said that the increase in annual assessments to rebuild the clubhouse would bring each member’s annual payment up to $1,600 per lot—even if there were no other increased expenses for the POA (which is unlikely).
Though there are close to 3,000 lots in PMC, Gurtner confirmed that only 2,892 currently pay assessments.
“So, the [POA] revenue is relatively fixed, right?” Canton asked. “We also have increased foreclosures on lots. People are giving up empty lots because the assessments are so high…this [the construction plan] will be put to a member vote, right?”
“No! This is just a board vote!” Gurtner said quickly, showing distaste for the line of questioning. “It takes all kinds,” he said into the mic, directing the comment at Canton’s back as the member walked back to his seat.
“I need a moment to sigh,” Mary Hansen said, appearing to pile on to agree with Gurtner’s impatience with another member’s questions. “It will improve our property values…that is the job of the board…to maintain our property values,” Hansen said. “I want to be sure that we get as many members behind this as we can, if you are going out on a limb for this,” she added.
As we go to press, General Manager Rory Worster confirmed that the current facility is about 9,216 sq. ft. A rough estimate for the proposed facility plan is 25,364 sq. ft.—a 275% increase. [See note on page 17]
Loan repayment for this plan, if the estimate is accurate, would mean a 10.5% to 14% hike in homeowners’ assessments.
No business plan projections were offered to show how possible catering revenues could be raised. It now takes $20,000 a month in subsidies to keep the current clubhouse restaurant open, PMC Board Treasurer Stephan Bates confirmed in a later interview.
Mel Weinstein came to the mic to ask: “Is there a middle plan that does not cost $7 million? There are a lot of people who do not use the facilities at all. For those on a fixed income, when people cannot afford to buy their medicines, I am concerned about the cost. Is there a middle plan so it does not jump from zero to $7 million?”
No answer was offered about alternate plans.
“This building is not just a clubhouse. This is our city hall, our meeting place,” John Cantley said. “Okay, the post office is our meeting place too, but I think we have done some things with this plan to make this our civic center. We can have casual music. People will come to use this more. That is a goal I have. I’m on a fixed income too. I don’t come down here often.”
Gurtner said. “Yes, there are people on fixed incomes for whom this is difficult At the same time this is a responsibility to the community to maintain what they want. We are talking about more services, better services for your money. We have stagnated at this level. Will this create difficulties for some? Yes. But we have an obligation to the broader community to enhance and maintain their investment.”
Gurtner said questions arose during planning about “what attracts future investors.” He spoke of “additional opportunities,” including, “What about hotel rooms? We can’t pursue those unless we know if this is what you want us to do.”
No further information was provided about those aspirations, which echo a 2005 debate in Pine Mountain Club’s POA. That debate led to the largest voting turnout in over a decade to elect five new board members who rejected using POA assessments to turn PMC’s clubhouse into a destination spa and resort business.
The population of PMC is over 3,500. The 2016 inspector of elections said that only 2,817 owners out of 2,946 billable lots in the POA paid assessments, so 129 lots were unable to vote for new directors last year. Many of those lots are in foreclosure or surrendered to the POA. Just 902 ballots were cast.
The slide presentation is now in the clubhouse lobby, where there will be questionnaires for member comments, Cantley said.
Of the $150,000 redirected from the PMCPOA operating fund in 2013 to plan clubhouse upgrades, about $80,000 remains, Treasurer Bates confirmed.
Concept drawings of an update to the PMC clubhouse proposed to be built by 2018
PMCPOA Chair William Gurtner introduces planning committee, Scott Lieber, Chair Ben Salazar, Vice Chair Mike DeAngelis and Board Liaison John Cantley (Carolyn Davenport and Lee Krimm not shown), as members learn update may be $6-$7 million.
Potential impact on assessments: The architect’s estimate for a construction budget is between $6 and $7 million
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This is part of the January 20, 2017 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.
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