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This Arlington country club closure opens 100 acres of land. What do developers want to build?

Gray golf carts sit in the foreground in an asphalt lot overlooking Rolling Hills Country Club in Arlington July 28, 2022. The green holds several trees, some browning grass and borders a blue, partly cloudy sky.
Kailey Broussard
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KERA News
Rolling Hills Country Club closed July 31, 2022, ending the chapter on 70 years of community gatherings and leisure. Its new owner, Provident Realty Advisors, wants to build a suburban neighborhood and retail in its place.

Hundreds of suburban homes, senior living, townhomes, trails and businesses may take the place of Rolling Hills Country Club. If approved, the plan will create a new batch of housing on the last large patch of green space in north Arlington.

Helen Moise, District 1 council member who represents Arlington's north side, says the plans could add more housing options for business executives aside from the master-planned community Viridian 10 minutes away.

“If we’re going to bring jobs to Arlington, then we also have to bring housing,” Moise says. “We have to bring in housing that executives want to live in.”

Moise says several developers have come forward with plans for Rolling Hills over the years, but none have tapped into the needs of nearby residents. Moise, Mayor Jim Ross and developers with Provident Realty Advisors and consulting firm Masterplan held a town hall in March to discuss plans to repurpose the golf course.

Provident’s plans presented to council Aug. 2 include designs for a suburban neighborhood. The northern 70 acres could hold around 221 homes on lots that range from 7,200 to 8,400 square feet. The plan also calls for detention ponds and green space around the property, as well as a trail along the gas line.

Rylan Yowell with Provident Realty Advisors says the company plans to design the northern neighborhood immediately after closing the land sale. As for the remaining acreage, he says, Provident will take their time in finding the right fit for the area.

"It's a notable section in Arlington, so we're trying to determine the viability for a grocery store," Yowell says.

Provident is also considering retirement homes, assisted living, memory care or townhomes.

"We're excited for what could go there, but we may be patient and just start out with that single-family portion," Yowell says.

A gas well site owned by United Production Partners sits on the southeast portion of the property.

The city’s planning and zoning commission will look at Provident’s plans Aug. 17, and if approved, the plans will go before city council Sept. 6 and Sept. 27.

The initial glimpse into plans and meeting schedule comes after longtime country club members said bittersweet farewells to their decades-old community gathering spot.

Jim Wells, a former Rolling Hills board member, says times have changed, and younger people are not joining clubs like they used to.

“Myself and several of my friends joined when we were 30 years old and all that. Now, we have very few members who are under 40 years old,” he says.

A brick, one-story building shaded by several trees sits on top of a hill, in front of a cloudy sky.
Kailey Broussard
/
KERA News
Rolling Hills Country Club is considered by some longtime members to be the highest point in north Arlington. The club closed July 31, 2022, after nearly 70 years in town.

Last days of Rolling Hills

Wells and other former Rolling Hills members know their now defunct space will make for great homes. The spot is located close to Interstate 30 and along Cooper Street, making it a central spot in the city as well as the region.

The plans close the chapter on a nearly 70-year-old north Arlington institution that started as an idea for a family activity center.

“This is the way of life for a lot of people and has been for a long time. To see a place that they routinely go to for golf, social, whatever it may be, it’s going to be a change for all of us. It’s sad,” Wells says.

The clubhouse, which held ceremonial memorabilia from officials including former Gov. Rick Perry and former U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. The club was a four-year host of the Texas Women’s Open.

Romelle Hase organized events for Rolling Hills for over 40 years. In the last days of the club, she would go out for games a couple times a week, as well as hit the restaurant for tacos and Friday happy hour.

Sitting at a table near the entry, Hase recited names of regulars who sat nearby and employees carrying them drinks.

“I think people are trying to just get every bit of celebration they can,” Hase says.

Romelle Hase.JPG
Kailey Broussard
/
KERA News
Romelle Hase holds a picture of her and other Rolling Hills Country Club members in the clubhouse dining room and bar area July 28, 2022. The country club closed three days later.

Hase organized club events for around 40 years, ranging from bluegrass shows to the Valentine’s Day sweetheart dance.

“We carried on and I would be carrying on forever if things worked out like that,” Hase says.

Nearby, former Texas Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams sat at the bar. A 27-year club member, Williams originally joined to relax with friends and learn how to play golf. He says he hasn’t played since 2008, but visited for lunch twice a week.

“Some people say that Rolling Hills is a bar with a big backyard,” Williams says. “What it really is, is a number of people with big ole’ hearts.”

Asked what he would say to future homeowners about the history of the space, Williams says he hopes the good times from more than half a century of games and outings spills over to its next chapter.

“I hope the good vibes from Rolling Hills sort of emanate into the homes that are going to be built out there,” Williams says.

Got a tip? Email Kailey Broussard at kbroussard@kera.org. You can follow Kailey on Twitter @KaileyBroussard.

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Kailey Broussard is a reporter for KERA and The Texas Newsroom through Report for America (RFA). Broussard covers the city of Arlington, with a focus on local and county government accountability.