Designers making final plans for Hobbit's Glen clubhouse

The company that will be designing a new or renovated clubhouse at Columbia's Hobbit's Glen Golf Club is, well, right on course.

The H. Chambers Co., a Baltimore-based architecture and engineering firm that has designed hundreds of clubs around the country, is slated to present its recommendation to the Columbia Association board on April 12. The firm held its third and final discussion about its plans and proposed designs March 12 at the Amherst House in Kings Contrivance.

The first two meetings were with golfers and residents in the neighborhood in Harper's Choice. Monday's meeting was open to the entire community.

Some CA board members who also were present said it is too early to say which of the firm's approaches will have the best shot.

"I want to wait and see what the costs are and what the schedule is," said board member Andrew Stack of Owen Brown. "If we tear down the clubhouse, that takes a while. You're looking at a year to 18 months of no restaurant, no clubhouse, nothing. If you renovate, can you stage it? You probably can't from the way we're headed."

H. Chambers will present three options to the board, including one involving renovating the clubhouse and one for building a new clubhouse. Conceptual designs for those two options were presented Monday. The third option, which has not yet been completed, would likely see a new clubhouse built on a different location, allowing for changes to be made to the golf course itself, such as extending the driving range, according to Kenneth Hart, the firm's director of architecture.

All three options would take about 9 to 11 months to complete, with work not expected to begin until next year, he said.

The renovation, which would gut the interior and change the layout of the clubhouse, would cost about $4.6 million. A new clubhouse on the spot of the existing clubhouse would cost about $5.5 million. And a new building in a different spot would be closer to $6 million, Hart said.

The CA board has approved up to $6 million for the project.

These meetings, Hart said, were essential for fulfilling the board's mandate that the first thing H. Chambers needed to build was consensus in the community.

"I think there's a lot of passion for the existing building, the level of warmth they feel. They don't want to lose that, whether it's a renovation or a new building," he said. "They want something that feels right, that feels like it belongs in Harper's Choice."

Hart said he also heard passionate support for the Coho Grill, a restaurant inside the clubhouse that reaches a clientele beyond golfers.

Both designs presented Monday include a "19th hole" bar for golfers and dining areas for other visitors. Both the bar and dining areas, while separated, could be connected for larger gatherings.

Board member Cynthia Coyle of Harper's Choice, who has been involved with a golf clubhouse work team giving input on the project, said H. Chambers included many of the suggestions that came out of that group and from the community meetings.

She still saw challenges that needed to be addressed, she said, but liked "a little bit of both" designs presented Monday.

"I'm definitely trying to keep my mind open to both right now," she said. "And to whatever the [third] one is."

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