Loblolly Plantation Vision Outlined
Aberdeen officials have expressed cautious optimism about a preliminary proposal for an all-in-one resort community planned between Pinebluff and Aberdeen.
The Loblolly Plantation, which will be marketed to international clients, is still in the planning stages but will include two 18-hole golf courses, an Olympic-sized indoor swimming pool, a 100-room luxury hotel, tennis courts, a spa and fitness/wellness center, and a golf academy for young people.
On Thursday night, the Aberdeen Board of Commissioners and the town planning board, along with about 50 residents, got a brief overview of the proposal from representatives from Hobbs Upchurch & Associates, a local firm representing the developer.
“Initially I like the idea,” Aberdeen Mayor Betsy Mofield said. “I’m especially fond of the golf academy. I have five little grandsons and I’d love to have every one of them in that golf academy.”
Fred Hobbs, a principal of Hobbs Upchurch & Associates, stressed the fluid nature of the project, which remains in the early stages of development.
“We want to give you a flavor for the concept of what this project will consist of,” he said. “The exact number and the exact orientation of things will probably change as time goes on as we get input from the planning board and council.”
The property for the proposed Loblolly development is a 787-tract of land off U.S. 15-501 across from Legacy Links Golf Course and Legacy Lakes subdivision, and north of Pinebluff Lake Road. The property is owned by S.R. Ransdell and is in the extraterritorial zoning jurisdiction of Aberdeen and Pinebluff. Part of the land is also zoned by the county.
Developers have not purchased the land but do have an option to buy it, according to several officials.
A similar presentation will be made on June 28 to Pinebluff officials.
Hobbs said Nick Faldo and Steve Smyers have been hired to work on both courses. Faldo’s lead architect has already visited the site, he said.
The development could also include up to 1,000 houses, a 300- to 500-seat performing arts center, as well as a media center, library, convention center and other amenities.
Bob Koontz, who is the lead planner on the project for Hobbs Upchurch, stressed that the project developers envisioned a golf resort lifestyle community that would be “a very diverse place in the heart of Aberdeen.”
He said the plan is to create a real village atmosphere centered around 50,000 to 80,000 square feet of retail space.
“We are trying to create a great atmosphere ... a sense of place in the center of the project,” Koontz said.
The proposal envisions 800 to 1,000 residential lots, which would be a combination of single-family, multi-family and townhomes with a classic Sandhills style that he called a mix of New England and Southern architecture.
Hobbs said it is not intended to be a gated community.
“I think its a great concept,” Aberdeen Commis-sioner Robbie Farrell said. “If it were to become a reality, it would be a great addition to Aberdeen. Of course, there are a lot of ifs in there.”
Sam Richardson, who owns about 25 acres adjacent to one edge of the proposed Loblolly Plantation site, said his property has been in his family for five generations. He said he attended the meeting to get more information on the proposal.
“It’s kind of what I expected,” he said. “I hate to see it coming. I’d like it to stay small, but that doesn’t always happen, does it?”
Farrell said he hoped that if the project is successful, it would spur other developments.
“ If this takes off, maybe it would make Legacy Lakes take off,” he said.
The town has approved 720 homes for Legacy Lakes, but it has been slow to develop in the sluggish economy.
Representatives from Hobbs Upchurch said the developer wants to move quickly on the project.
Koontz said he hopes to have an application submitted to the town by the end of July. The Planning Board could have something to review at its August meeting.
Aberdeen Planning Director Kathy Liles told the assembled crowd that Thursday’s presentation was informal and that as the process moves forward, residents will have opportunitiesto discuss the proposed project as the plans are formalized.
According to the project website, Loblolly Plantation will be a lifestyle golf resort and community development that, “in the spirit of the Pinehurst area’s name and heritage, ‘Home of American Golf,’ will take patrons through an amazing journey of golf course architecture, creating a brushstroke in design inspired by the great icons such as Donald Ross, Alister McKenzie, George Crump and a host of others.
“Patrons will enjoy a new masterpiece, which honors the works of those who made golf a great game and experience an ‘old world’ village lifestyle unlike any others.”
The original plan encompasses 774 acres. An optional 82-acre international golf institution and a 24-acre wildlife adventure and water park are also part of the plan.
Liles has said she has been told the project could generate 350 jobs.
Contact Tom Embrey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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