Senior community plans introduced for golf course sites

By: Thomas Franz | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published November 8, 2016

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MACOMB TOWNSHIP — A Florida-style senior living community is in the works for Macomb Township, and it would change the landscape of the local golf scene.

A development of more than 300 acres has been conceptualized for where Hickory Hollow Golf Club and Sycamore Hills Golf Club currently sit. 

Plans show that Hickory Hollow would be redeveloped for senior residences, while Sycamore Hills would become an 18-hole course.

Plans for the community are in very preliminary stages, and there will be at least one more summer of golf on each course, developers said. 

“I think this is an unbelievable opportunity for the township, myself and the residents of Macomb to develop something that could really be special,” said Ron Jona, an architect and developer with the Ron Jona Collaborative, based out of Birmingham. 

The project, North Bridge Senior Living, is planned to be a graduated senior living community which offers living options for independent living, assisted living, or extended or memory care.

The senior living component is planned to be developed on the current site of Hickory Hollow, while single-family residences are planned for the southwest side of Sycamore Hills.

Independent senior residential options could include detached units measuring 1,950 square feet, duplexes that are 1,860 square feet and quad units measuring 1,500 square feet. 

A four-story assisted living facility is also being proposed, along with an extended care building for those requiring closer care. 

A commercial element could also be included in the project. Jona said a farm-to-table restaurant is being planned for where the Hickory Hollow clubhouse currently sits. A pharmacy and a general store could be located next to the restaurant. These features would be open to the public, as well as the residents.

Elsewhere on the property, numerous bridges and water features will dot the landscape. Up to 100 acres of parkland could also be a part of the final proposal. Sports facilities like a pickleball court are also planned.

“When I looked at it, and my first goal was to include Sycamore, you just don’t see 318 acres like this, and it coming not all developed. You have an 18-hole golf course, probably 100 acres of parks and all of these different types of components, it’s really what you look for,” Jona said. 


Golf course changes at Sycamore

As for Sycamore Hills, single-family homes similar to the Sycamore Estates neighborhood are planned to be built where the course’s west nine holes presently sit.

The south course would remain untouched, and minor changes would occur on the north nine and some of the remaining west nine to accommodate an 18-hole layout.

Tom Schwark, president of Sycamore Hills, said holes No. 3, 7, 8 and 9 from the north course, plus holes Nos. 1, 2 and 9 on the west would remain the same, and the south course would become the course’s back nine.

The driving range is planned to be pushed to the east, where the current opening hole sits near the golf cart shed. The new opening hole would run parallel to the current ninth hole on the north and use the north’s second hole green as its putting surface.

The practice green is projected to move away from the clubhouse, close to where the teeing area is on the driving range currently.

Shwark said the economic climate for golf in the area continues to lag from its peak in the 1990s, and eliminating 27 holes from the area wouldn’t impact the golf scene too significantly. 

“It’s a bit of a challenge, and we’ve lost a number of golf courses already. We’ve never seen an impact of more business as a result of those closings,” Schwark said. “This won’t make a very big difference for the golfers because they can still pretty much get on the courses when they want to. It’s not like we’re bursting at the seams with golfers.”

Schwark and Jona presented their conceptual plans to the Macomb Township Planning Commission Nov. 1 for essentially an informational only discussion.

Jona said he plans to make adjustments to his final plan for the development over the next 60 days and come back to the planning commission for initial approvals early in the new year.