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Golf course bagged, but Bonney Lake’s Tehaleh getting bigger

Newland Communities is studying how it wants to develop the land, which is part of the original phase one of the Tehaleh master plan.
Newland Communities is studying how it wants to develop the land, which is part of the original phase one of the Tehaleh master plan. Staff file, 2013

The Puget Sound area’s biggest planned development, Tehaleh near Bonney Lake, is growing again.

Newland Communities, the developer of the mixed-use residential and commercial tract, has acquired roughly 500 more acres to bring the total size of the development to 4,700 acres.

The newly acquired tract, east of 198th Avenue East, was originally part of the failed Cascadia project that went bankrupt during the housing recession. The 500-acre tract was owned by a separate limited liability company associated with but not part of the original Cascadia development.

When Newland bought the Cascadia land from the bank that owned it, the 500-acre tract was not part of the sale.

That new tract under the original development plan for the community was to have been the site of a golf course surrounded by homes. The original developers cleared the forested land where the course’s fairways and greens were to be located, but never completed the golf course development.

Scott Jones, Newland’s vice president, said a golf course is now not part of the plan for the land.

The company’s marketing experts, he said, advised that golf courses are no longer the development magnet they once were. Across the country, golf courses are struggling to stay solvent after a dip in the sport’s popularity.

Jones said the company is studying how it wants to develop the land, which is part of the original phase one of the Tehaleh master plan. That plan, Jones said, allowed the developer to build a golf course but didn’t require its construction.

It’s likely the area originally designated for golf course development will become some sort of open public space, he said.

An equestrian center, also envisioned in the original plan, is now unlikely to be built, he added.

Michael Weekley, who owns a developable tract surrounded by Tehaleh, said Pierce County should require Newland to build the golf course.

“I have a feeling that one of the state’s largest bait-and-switch endeavors is going on in Pierce County at Tehaleh. The new owners have taken a 20-year EIS and are changing it quite a bit. Many of the people who bought there were told there would be equestrian areas and a golf course as part of the project. Now, they are not getting it,” Weekley said.

Jones said Newland didn’t promise potential homeowners a golf course.

The development plan, which will take decades to build out, was designed to be flexible and allow the developer to shift plans as market conditions change, Jones said.

John Gillie: 253-597-8663

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