A California golf course transformed into something even more luxurious

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A land once intended as an 18-hole golf course in the California desert is slowly being transformed into a neighborhood of 1,150 homes. The neighborhood – or “agrihood” as it’s marketed – is located on the edge of Palm Springs. Its communal facilities include a cafe, full-service bar, gym, yoga studios, bocce courts, and spa.

If that’s not enough, 70 acres of former golf greens are being transformed into a working olive grove, which will be harvested and turned into olive oil. (This is where the designation “agrihood” comes from.)

Former golf cart paths have been converted into hiking trails that wind through olive groves and the desert landscape.

Walking trails through the Miralon Palm Springs neighborhood. (Photo: Woodbridge Pacific Group and AG Photography)

“Not everything survives 120 degree heat in the summer,” said Brad Shuckhart, who led the development and construction of the Miralon project. “Olives are a fairly hardy plant. They grow well in the Middle East, they also grow well in the California desert, and they’re not big water users.

The entry price is the purchase of one of the new construction homes, which range from about $700,000 to $1.2 million, Shuckhart said. Units are a mix of single family homes and condos.

The community has been in the making for a long time. It was originally planned to be a golf course with surrounding homes in 2003, Shuckhart said. But right after the golf course part ended, the financial crash hit in 2008.

“It was the go-go era, and then 2007, 2008 pretty much stopped everything, including that development,” Shuckhart said. “When we bought the site, all the landscaping had fallen into disrepair. The infrastructure that had been put in previously needed to be significantly reworked or repaired, just because of the passage of time and vandalism and things like that.

More than a decade later, work is resuming, but with a different vision, more suited to today’s buyers. Instead of a hodgepodge of Italian and Spanish-inspired homes, all of the new buildings are inspired by mid-century modern design.

The golf course was abandoned – “The desert is full of golf courses, we saw no need for another,” Shuckhart said – in favor of something that would put all that hypothetical water use to “literally bear fruit” for residents.

A solar panel in Miralon. (Photo: Woodbridge Pacific Group and AG Photography)

Conscious use of water is key to life in the desert, as is the use of the place’s most abundant natural resource: sunlight. All homes have solar panels on the roof, and there is a large solar panel in the community that helps offset the community center’s massive energy consumption, Shuckhart said.

The whole package has so far been an attractive offer for Palm Springs’ more classic demographic — that is, retirees — but also for people inspired to leave town since the pandemic, like the growing families, Shuckhart said.

The community itself also continues to grow. About 100 houses have been so far; about 70 or 80 of them are occupied. Shuckhart said it will be another six or seven years before Miralon’s last home is sold.

“We’ve just been given a big blank canvas, and I think we’ve come up with something that has appealed to our residents so far and people are excited about it.”

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