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Woodland Hills : Country Club’s Building Plans Please Neighbors

Times Staff Writer

Homeowners usually tremble at the thought of an 18-month, $4-million construction project in the middle of their neighborhood.

That’s not happening in Woodland Hills, though.

Residents who live near the Woodland Hills Country Club are rejoicing over a plan to build a 36,000-square-foot clubhouse near their homes. They view the project as proof that club members have decided not to sell the 97-acre golf course to subdividers.

Country club officials outlined construction plans to homeowners during a meeting Thursday night in the creaky wooden hilltop clubhouse that they plan to tear down. On Friday, they filed for permission from Los Angeles city planners for the demolition and reconstruction.

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Start of construction in the spring will bring sighs of relief to the neighborhood of 1,000 homes that surrounds the 63-year-old golf course nestled among hills a mile south of the Ventura Freeway.

Offers Pour In

Since April, rumors have swept through the community that country club members have been courted by real estate agents and foreign investors eager to buy the golf course and turn it into a luxury housing tract.

Club president Bruce Gall told homeowners that offers have cascaded in. But, he said, club members who recently were polled about selling have made it clear that they aren’t interested.

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Any sale would require approval of at least two-thirds of the 350 members who co-own the country club, he said. It costs $25,000 to join, and there is a waiting list.

“We don’t want million-dollar homes built on this property,” Gall told residents. “But there have been formal offers. . . . I got four more in the mail today.”

“Don’t open them!” cried homeowner Bernice Schlender, who has lived near the golf course for 42 years.

Gall said the existing 1-story clubhouse was built a year before Schlender moved to the neighborhood. He said the nondescript building has been remodeled and expanded several times since--although it hasn’t changed much since Ronald Reagan stepped onto its small ballroom stage about 23 years ago to first announce his candidacy for governor.

2-Story Replacement

Club secretary Donald Rose, in charge of the building project, said the clubhouse’s hilltop site will be excavated to allow construction of a 2-story replacement. As a result, the new building will be no higher than the existing one.

“Our intention is to build something new that looks like it’s been around for a long time,” Rose said. He said dirt from the hilltop will be used to slightly expand the club’s parking lot. Its Dumetz Road entry will not be changed.

An artist’s sketch that shows a Spanish hacienda-looking building with a tile roof drew approving glances from the homeowners.

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“I’m very pleased,” said Morris Repass, who has lived above the club’s 18th green for 20 years. “This seems a positive thing after all the rumors of development we’ve heard.”

The project even earned a nod from Gordon Murley, president of the slow-growth-oriented Woodland Hills Homeowners Organization.

“Basically, this is the best thing that can happen to the community,” Murley said. “There’s so little open space left in Woodland Hills.”

Still, the neighborhood will remain alert in case the sound of hammering suddenly stops next year, said Dan Doran, who moved to a home near the 7th hole about 1 1/2 years ago.

“These Japanese investors have deep pockets,” Doran said. “That worries everybody in this neighborhood.”


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