Popular Santa Clara golf course closing to make space for mega entertainment hub

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (KGO) -- The city of Santa Clara is hoping to improve quality of life in the South Bay. For the past 50 years, it's been planning what officials call a mega entertainment hub. The proposed project will be built on 230 acres of city-owned property, near Levi's Stadium. And it's what they're taking away to build, that has some people upset.

For the past six years, twice a week during lunch, Hunter Hansen has come to the Santa Clara Golf and Tennis Club to hit balls with his boss. Ever since, he's heard rumors that the place was set to close.

"The golf course never went away," he said. "Yet, they keep saying they are going to, they are going to. After a while, we just figured they are crying wolf."

But that changed on Tuesday when the city officially gave the club a six-month notice to close, as required by their contract.

"Golfing isn't what it was 10 years ago," says Santa Clara Mayor Lisa Gillmor. "It's changed. Our numbers are down."

According to the mayor, the 230-acre site will be converted into a mega entertainment hub. Named "City Place," Gillmor says it'll be one of the largest retail and entertainment developments in the United States.

"(It'll be) a place to play, work, entertainment and arts district, and to really provide a quality of life here for the people who work here in the Santa Clara Valley and the Silicon Valley area," said the mayor. "So, it's going to fill a void."

But not all residents are happy that the golf course is closing.

"I think it's ridiculous, I think it's obscene," says Julie Rose, who has been a regular at the club for the past 13 years.

She doesn't like the idea of taking one of the city's only open spaces and converting it to indoor shops and restaurants.

Santa Clara Golf and Tennis Club opened back in 1987. It's across the street from Levi's Stadium and near California's Great America Theme Park. It includes a driving range, putting and chipping practice areas, lighted tennis courts and onsite instruction from PGA and LPGA professionals.

Plus, Rose says this place is affordable.

"If you join a club or a country club, no, that's way off the charts!" says Rose about pricing. "The prices here are fabulous! You can get a good round in."

The mayor says they are working to try and get its residents discounted prices at other golf course in neighboring cities.

Gillmor also says the City Place will incorporate the natural elements of the area.

"We are going to connect it to our trails," she said. "We are going to build a 35 acre Central Park North on the site. So, it's really going to be an outdoor mall area as well."

John Shinn has been coming to the golf club for the past 20 years. He likes the new project especially since it will bring in more housing.

"I'm more interested in housing. We need good housing," he said.

Hansen says he'll miss the golf course but he is excited to see what comes next.

"Beneficial to the golfers, it's not," he said. "But to be beneficial to the community, it could be great."

Next Tuesday, city officials will host an event to unveil which restaurants and shops will be part of phase one. The mayor says one of the restaurants will be a venture by San Francisco 49ers legend Joe Montana.

The first of City Place is expected to open in three years. The entire project should be completed within 10 to 15 years. The golf club will stay open until Oct. 15.
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