Work to begin in 2015 on West Park Village at VFW Country Club
By Ed Waters Jr. News-Post Staff
Duffers have been frustrated by it for 90 years and generations of children have sledded its rolling hill, but the VFW Country Club will soon be replaced by a housing development.
Buchanan Pinkard Residential LLC, of Gaithersburg, has Frederick city master plan and adequate public facilities approval for a housing development, park and two commercial pad sites on the 57-acre property on U.S. 40 Alternate, just past the split with West Patrick Street.
West Park Village will have no more than 285 housing units. The two commercial pad sites will be conveyed to the VFW, according to Colin Dove, project manager for Buchanan Partners.
Development work is expected to start in mid- to late 2015. The plan is in the preliminary subdivision plan approval process with the city of Frederick. Site plan review should be completed this summer, Dove said.
The Gaithersburg company also developed the Spring Ridge community.
The golf course dates to 1924, said Juan Stull, quartermaster for VFW Post 3285. It was originally Catoctin Country Club but changed when the VFW post was formed and bought the property.
“It was built the year I was born,” said Bill Staley, 90, who had just finished practicing his putting Tuesday. “It is a shame to see it go.”
Staley said he plays on the VFW course once a week or so.
“The club was once so busy you had to wait to get on the membership list,” Stull said. “I waited two years.”
Gil Slocum, who was also practicing his putting Tuesday, said he had been playing at the VFW for five years and is glad the club ended membership two years ago because he enjoys playing at different golf courses in the area.
“It has been a golfing staple for years,” Slocum said of the VFW course, echoing Staley’s sentiment.
“We expect to have people playing through the end of this year and maybe into next year,” said Stull, who was working in the golf pro shop Tuesday. “It depends on when they put the shovel in the ground.”
The VFW post will continue to operate, and the restaurant is leased to Capital Crave. The property was sold, but the post building and parking lot will be conveyed back to the veterans’ group. The post has 667 members and will continue meetings and social events at the site.
In recent years, the VFW faced competition from other golf courses, Stull said.
“It is a nine-hole course, and it is a challenge to get people to play. … Until 1970 or so, we were the only game in town.”
The swimming pool has not been used for two years, Stull said. The pool site will be filled in and become one of the two commercial pad sites, he said.
The portion of the property fronting U.S. 40A is wetlands and will become a park as part of the development plan, Stull said. Houses will be built beyond the hill favored by many as a sledding spot.
Richard Griffin, director of the city’s economic development office, sees development of the golf course as a positive step for the area.
“New investment like the proposed West Park development at the old VFW Golf Course makes the economic case for the future of terrific mixed-use retail corridors like the Golden Mile,” he wrote in an email. “We are delighted to see strong new investment at both ends of the Golden Mile.”
According to the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation, the property was sold to West Park Village LLC in 2012 for $2.7 million. The was assessed as of July 2013 at $1.4 million for the golf course and building.