Plans Moving Forward for Big Resort in Central Washington

By: Jeff Shelley

Many golf-related proposals have come and gone for the heart of Washington State, a nationally-recognized agricultural area ripe for destination resorts. Well, it now looks such a project may come to fruition.

Announced in late February 2007, the proposed Vineyards Resort south of Moxee will be a 500-acre, $500 million development that involves a 7,561-yard 18-hole golf course, over 580 single- and multi-family homes, a 100-room condo hotel, an open-air amphitheater, pool, spa, fitness center and retail areas.

The high-end, full-service resort located 7 miles northwest of Zillah atop Rattlesnake Ridge will be the first of its kind in the heart of Washington's wine country. One of the project's backers, Gary Scott of Portal West Corp., of Ellensburg, Wash., told reporter David Lester of the Yakima Herald, "This is a top-quality, high-desert destination resort. Everything says this is a 'yes' for the Yakima Valley."

Also involved in the project are Craig Schultz of Craig Schultz Properties, LLC, who also owns Westwood West Golf Course in the West Valley section of Yakima, and Eagle Resort Development of Crested Butte, Colo. The latter entity has been involved in similar projects in Colorado and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. The development team is now in the process of securing final building permits from Yakima County officials.

The lengthy golf course will be the handiwork of Michael Hurdzan of Hurdzan/Fry Architects of Columbus, Ohio. The Vineyards be Hurdzan's first-ever design in the Pacific Northwest. He recently was honored with the 2007 Donald Ross Award by the American Society of Golf Course Architects. Previous winners include Robert Trent Jones, Geoffrey Cornish, Pete Dye and members Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer. The award is given annually to a person who has made significant contributions to the game of golf and golf course architecture.

Construction on the Vineyards will occur in several phases, starting with the golf course this June. Developing the infrastructure - building roads, laying water and sewer lines, erecting a water-treatment plant and other facilities - will be a two-year process.

Lot prices will range from $250,000 to $1 million, with the larger homes expected to cost upwards of $1.5 million. According to one of the partners, Dan Fitchett of Eagle Resort Development, the resort will be initially marketed to the Seattle metropolitan area and expanded from there.

The Vineyards is actually the second development of its kind in the greater Yakima area. Now under construction nearby is Zillah Lakes, a 224-acre housing development that will feature a nine-hole, 3,326-yard golf course designed by Bobby Cupp, the son of much-heralded architect Robert Cupp. Also involved there are over 600 housing units, a community center, tennis courts and a swimming pool.

If all goes according to plan and, weather permitting, the courses at The Vineyards and Zillah Lakes will open for play sometime in 2008.