New Golf Project Slated for Walla Walla

Pennbrook Homes, Inc., of Bend, Ore., has submitted a master plan application to Walla Walla County (Wash.) for the development of a planned community known as Illahee. Located on Mill Creek Road directly across State Route 12 from the regional airport, the site would form a new eastern border to the city of Walla Walla.

Illahee – the Chinook Indian word for land, country, earth and soil – encompasses 358 acres, with a projected investment of nearly $200 million. Plans call for an integrated mix of 365 residences and townhomes, 30 acres of vineyards, and a nine-hole public golf course. Future plans include a boutique hotel and spa, and more than 10 miles of publicly accessible biking and hiking trails. In fall 2005, the property was approved for inclusion within the city’s urban growth area.

“It is very important for us to create an open, non-gated community,” said Steve Robertson, Pennbrook president. “The entire site is conceived as an interconnected parkway.”

Robertson added, “Walla Walla has long embraced its agricultural heritage and recently incorporated a visionary emphasis on the wine industry. There are many regions in the Northwest where grapes grow, but few with the same authentic sense of place and dedication to quality on the part of both vineyard and winery owners.”

Pennbrook has dedicated approximately 30 prime acres of Illahee to vineyards that will support premium fruit production. They will be managed by faculty and students at the Institute for Enology and Viticulture, created by Walla Walla Community College (WWCC). All planting and production will follow established organic practices defined by the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance.

According to published reports, only around 30-50 new homes are built in the county each year and demand for housing is rising. Current plans for Illahee call for construction of 76 attached and 289 detached homes, with design guidelines to support each.

Pennbrook will build roughly two-thirds of the dwellings and the company will sell the remaining lots to a limited number of qualified homebuilders and purchasers. Pennbrook’s in-house staff will manage the home and lot sales, in collaboration with local realtors. Pending master plan approval in early 2006, the first homes will be completed mid-2008, with pre-sales in early 2007.

Jacobsen Hardy Golf Course Design has been retained to create the Illahee public course. Planned as a friendly but challenging track, the complex will include a pro shop, driving range and full practice area. In another anticipated partnership with WWCC, the golf course will give students and faculty of the college’s nationally known Turf Management program the opportunity for real-world training.

The development will also feature overnight accommodations. The inn will include a restaurant, lounge, spa, and a wine cave. There will be approximately 60 rooms, 48 of which will be organized in three groupings of 16 hospitality units with vistas of the nearby Blue Mountains. Space will be provided for business retreats, family reunions, wedding parties, and other groups.

Among other projects, Pennbrook Homes has been a long-time builder-partner in Eagle Crest, a golf resort community near Redmond in Central Oregon. The company’s most recent development is Highland Parks, located between Redmond and Sisters, Ore. In addition to Illahee, the company owns the Drumheller Building in downtown Walla Walla.

For more information about Illahee, contact Pennbrook Homes at 541/389-8660.