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University of North Texas >> Office of the President >> Golf course plans home

January 30, 2003

A golf course development update from the President

The University of North Texas today received Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board permission to build a new residence hall on Eagle Point Golf Course property, which is adjacent to and owned by the university. The THECB's permission is contingent on the satisfactory resolution of the golf course lease with the Radisson Hotel.

The golf course property is being returned to the university's control by the Radisson Hotel, which recently has suffered a decline in both hotel and golf course revenues.

Since the golf course represents a significant portion of the university's land resources nearly 38 percent of the approximately 420 acres that comprise its main campus and golf course properties this unexpected windfall is causing the university to rethink its short and long-term facility planning. UNT, which is virtually landlocked, is looking to the golf course property as a future site for student housing and athletic facilities, while preserving the core of its main campus for academic buildings.

"UNT is reclaiming the 158-acre property at a critical juncture in the university's history when UNT has a record high enrollment of more than 30,000 students and a projected enrollment of nearly 34,000 by 2010," says UNT President Norval Pohl.

Pohl says using property that the university already owns is fiscally responsible and will permit the university to avoid the costly acquisition of land on the south side of campus (about $1 million per acre) and the displacement of Denton residents.

"It's going to help us maintain the space on our main campus for much needed academic buildings and parking, which is always in short supply," says Pohl. "And it makes us a good steward of the state's land resources."

Nearby residents, who have long enjoyed the green space afforded by the golf course, are objecting to this expansion of UNT's campus as an unwelcome intrusion into their neighborhood. In meetings with the university, they have said they fear the university's plans will cause traffic congestion, drainage problems, noise and light pollution, interfere with their rural way of life and impact their property values.

In responding to these concerns, UNT has held several meetings with neighborhood representatives and invited them to give input to the technical studies it has commissioned as part of the development planning and offer feedback on the final reports. Pohl has pledged to work with the representatives to mitigate the impact on the neighborhood, including the development of a proposed green space to provide a buffer to residents.

"The university will continue to work with the representatives to balance, wherever possible, the needs of both the university and the neighborhood," says Pohl. "I know we're not going to agree on every detail, but I'm fully committed to listening to their concerns and to developing the best possible compromises as we move forward with our plans."

If the technical studies demonstrate feasibility, the university must move forward with its plan to close the golf course in April and break ground shortly thereafter in order to have a much needed residence hall and new athletic center ready by the fall 2004 semester. These facilities, which affect only a small portion of the total golf course acreage, are part of a larger, comprehensive plan for the property. The university intends to establish clearly and discuss with the neighborhood plans for future use of the remaining acreage.

Reductions in the university's current and upcoming fiscal years' budgets aren't expected to impact the immediate golf course development plans. The residence hall's future revenues will service the debt on bonds issued for its construction. The athletic center will be funded by donations from supporters of UNT's athletic programs and non-state funds.

The opportunity to develop the golf course rose unexpectedly in Fall 2002 after the university and the Radisson entered into discussions about possible changes to the hotel and golf course leases. The discussions revealed significant and attractive long-term potential for the Radisson's operations. But UNT also learned that the hotel was losing money on the golf course, which was in deteriorating condition and could not be made to be self-supporting, even if the hotel or the university invested money to improve it. Professional golfer and golf course developer Don January, one of three outside contractors who evaluated the golf course, described the course as being "functionally obsolete" and non-competitive with the growing number of golf facilities in the region. UNT and the Radisson are working to dissolve the lease so that the university can move forward with its plans.

UNT is unable to accommodate all of its students desiring to live on campus, and plans to use the new 600-bed, 7-acre residence hall that will be built on the golf course to house upperclassmen.

The university already has begun construction on a 300-bed residence hall on North Texas Boulevard (planned before the golf course property became available), which will increase UNT's residence hall inventory to 4,800 beds. Residence halls are full every fall and have a waiting list. Consequently, the university has restricted the number of returning students desiring to live in residence halls to about 1,000. Additionally, UNT has approximately 3,200 freshmen students each fall semester, and more than 85 percent of those students request on-campus housing. Because of enrollment growth in recent years, the university cannot provide all of them housing.



Background information

Scope of work for golf course development study

Summary and chronology of the University of North Texas residence hall project

Background information to accompany request to construct a student residence hall on the UNT golf course

December 10, 2002 neighborhood meeting