Originally created 09/04/01

Developers extend contract to design riverside golf course



Don't ever count The Big Three out.

Developers of a more than 2,000-acre community in Columbia County have extended their contract with golf legends Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Arnold Palmer to design a 27-hole championship course on 1,200 acres skirting the Savannah River.

"It's still very much alive," said Wayne Millar, the project developer for Riverwood Plantation.

Developers already had revised the plans for the subdivision surrounding the course. The community will feature fewer lots than originally planned and could be gated. The developers will not commit to a time frame.

"You make mistakes when you try to do things too quickly," said E.G. Meybohm, a partner in the development company, called Riverwood Land.

The Pollard family, which owns an adjacent 1,000-acre tract, purchased the Riverwood Plantation property in August 2000 for $8 million from Canal Industries Inc., the project's original developer. Robert Pollard then formed the partnership to develop and market Riverwood Plantation.

When the transaction was first completed, Mr. Pollard said his company was "looking at options" regarding the golf course. The original developers hoped to have the course ready by the 2001 Masters, and some residents began to wonder whether the course would be built after that deadline passed and ground still hadn't been broken for the course.

The course carries the nickname the trio of former Masters champions garnered when they dominated professional golf in the 1960s and '70s.

Riverwood Plantation spans both sides of William Few Parkway, with land near Washington Road earmarked for commercial and retail development. As the property moves toward the Greenbrier schools, it becomes largely residential.

Mr. Millar said the development will harken back to the "old days," a time before cars became the staple of transportation in suburbia. The neighborhoods in the development will feature bikepaths and sidewalks.

"To get from point A to point B within the neighborhood, you don't have to get in your car," Mr. Millar said.

Work on four of the neighborhoods - Newland Place, Middleton, Mitchell Park and Morningside - has started, and several homes and lots have been sold. Developers say the community - and the approximately 1,500 lots within its boundaries - will be completed in about 15 years.

"We've been very pleased by the response," said Keith Lawrence, the project's professional engineer. "It's great to take a project from the beginning, and I'm looking forward to seeing it though to the end."

While the homes in the subdivision are new, there will be one building that reminds of the history of the land. A red barn that served as the centerpiece of the property when it was a southern hunting preserve for Sears Roebuck and Co. Chairman Gen. Robert E. Wood will be renovated and used as a neighborhood gathering place.

"It's a great asset," Mr. Millar said. "It sort of keeps you connected to the past, instead of everything just being out of the box."

Reach Jason B. Smith at (706) 868-1222, Ext. 115, or jbsmith@augustachronicle.com.