Until the opening of Hong Kong’s new, conveniently located international airport in July 1998, pilots guiding airliners into the hub of the Orient were required to execute a mind-numbing turn just prior to landing, easing the massive jets between towering skyscrapers.
Some pilots, nervous about the three-dimensional maze, were known to land late, bringing their flights to a screeching halt with the jet’s nose tipped into the ocean at the end of the runway.
|Kenton Friesen, Business Edge|
|Grant Puddicombe, left, and Scott Clements line up their putts as they announce the new golf club.|
Contrast that to the wide-open spaces surrounding the Edmonton International Airport, Canada’s second largest at 6,500 acres.
The only things for pilots to dodge here are Canada geese.
But that’s about to change.
Beginning in the spring of 2003, you can add orbit-seeking golf balls to the obstacle course.
The Red Tail Landing Golf Club, under construction on 234 acres of leased airport land alongside Highway 2, is more than 90 per cent completed, says Grant Puddicombe of Hawks Landing Golf Inc.
“All we have to do now is let Mother Nature run its course in the spring, tidy the golf course up, seed it and put cart paths in,” added Puddicombe at last week’s official project unveiling.
The announcement comes in the wake of verbal attacks on Edmonton Airports for plans to increase its airport-improvement fees from $10 to $15 in order to pay forcontinued terminal renovations.
WestJet president Clive Beddoe has stated the airline industry is too volatile to hike fees and has suggested other options be considered.
But Edmonton Airports Authority CEO Scott Clements says the direction the international airport is taking is timely and appropriate.
“When a community believes in itself, as we do, and when we establish a vision, as we have – to build the kind of airport that the fifth-largest market in Canada deserves – it needs to express that confidence from time to time,” says Clements.
He insists the $600 million Edmonton Airports is investing in providing roads and services to the golf course and adjacent Airlinks Business Park and Cargo Park is a long-term business strategy that has nothing to do with the increasing airport-improvement fee.
Clements adds that the leasing of excess airport lands will pay off in the long run, with future profits from the leases expected to help lower rates and charges to the airlines. (Edmonton Airports is a not-for-profit organization.)
The 1,100-acre business park is a new development on the heels of last month’s pioneering development by Federal Express in the recently renamed Airlinks Cargo Park.
Currently, a single road leads into the space sandwiched in the triangle between the terminals, cargo park and golf course.
The site has no pre-booked tenants and is targeting office buildings, high-end industrial tenants and other retail enterprises that will complement the massive Leduc/Nisku industrial park.
As the airport seeks to establish itself as a landlord, the golf course developers are making it clear their vision does not include real estate. (Good thing, as airport land can’t be zoned for residential.)
“We are strictly a public golf course, and we are solely focused on golf,” says Puddicombe. “There is no real estate component that has our ownership group’s interest.”
That translates to a 19-acre learning facility built into the centre of the course that will encourage quick recovery from winter golf-swing stagnation.
The course is designed to handle large tournament crowds and will feature a tournament facility separate from the pro shop.
The course, which will play to 7,330 yards from the farthest back of five tee boxes, has been designed and built by Sid Puddicombe Associates Ltd., a family-run company out of Nisku.
Father and president Sid and sons Grant, Mark and Tod have built and renovated more than 50 golf courses around the world.
Their work has made golf fanatics happy from the Dinosaur Trail Golf & Country Club in Drumheller to the President Country Club in Gunma, Japan.
They welcomed the opportunity to build a course in their own backyard and, as a family, control more than 50 per cent of the $6-million investment.
The designers estimate it will be worth about $8 million once completed, with the extra value coming from the experience and hands-on involvement of the investment team.
“It’s always been our dream to build our own golf course,” says Grant Puddicombe. “We’ve done so many projects so far away and we’ve never had an opportunity to showcase our talent locally.”