The modest, nine-hole Evergreen Golf Club in the northwest corner of Amherst will close for good at the end of this season and will be transformed into a major residential subdivision starting next year.
With 149 single-family homes planned for 48 acres of the parcel along Tonawanda Creek Road near Niagara Falls Boulevard, Planning Director Eric Gillert said the subdivision represents a major development for this part of town.
"I can't recall a subdivision of that size any time in my tenure," said Gillert, planning director since 1999. "This is a developable piece of land in a prime location. We do not have other parcels of this size in this geographic area, in northwest Amherst."
The Evergreen golf course, which at one time was known as Creekside Golf Course, has been in existence since the 1950s.
Jeffery Palumbo, a real estate development lawyer whose family has owned or co-owned the property since the 1970s, said the golf course has either made a marginal profit or struggled to break even for years.
"It's a starter course, basically," he said. "It's been used by different leagues for a number of years."
When the course shuts down for the season in late October, he said, it will do so for the last time.
The property, which runs adjacent to Tonawanda Creek and will become part of the Erie Canalway Trail system, was originally purchased by Palumbo's father and uncle more than 30 years ago, he said. It is now owned by the second generation of siblings and cousins.
Since the 1970s, the property has been zoned as multifamily residential in anticipation of eventual plans to redevelop it.
"It's taken that long for there to be demand in that part of town of mixed use like this, for multifamily and single family [homes]," he said.
The Palumbos have about 66 acres of developable land in the area. Most of the land is designated for multifamily home development, which would allow for single-family homes, as well as apartments.
The family plans to sell 48 acres to Anthony Cimato, one of the largest subdivision builders in town, for the development of single-family homes called "Evergreen Landing." The homes would range from 1,800 square feet up to 4,000 square feet for waterfront homes with private docks along the canal, Palumbo said.
The remaining acreage may be developed as apartments at a later date, he said.
The Amherst Planning Board approved the new subdivision 4-2 at its meeting last week. The project was changed to allow for public access to the canal, though some residents still expressed concerns about increased traffic.
The developer will grant an easement to allow the state Canal Authority to extend the Erie Canalway Trail system through the property. Land was made available to give the public easier access to the waterway.
Gillert said the bowling alley adjacent to the property, Manor Lanes II, will remain undisturbed and is not part of the property sale or development.
The northwest section of Amherst is dotted with older single-family home subdivisions and apartments. Much existing, available green space in this section of town is considered wetlands or is part of the undeveloped, 1,200-acre Nature View Park to the east.
That makes the Evergreen Landing subdivision a rarity for town planning officials.
"I don't really see any problems with this being incompatible with what's already been developed in that area," Gillert said.
If all goes as planned, Palumbo said, the subdivision will be built out in phases over the next five to seven years, with 20 to 30 homes being built and sold each year. He said construction should begin early next year.