The view at the intersection of Ridgewood Road and Lakeland Drive in Jackson has changed recently.
River Hills Club has unveiled is sparkling new clubhouse. Construction on the $11-million project began in October 2006. Doors opened in late January, and the transition literally happened overnight, says club manager Barney Chadwick.
“We had Sunday brunch in the old building and Monday lunch in the new one,” Chadwick said.
The new facility includes several amenities the old one did not. A teen center joins three dining areas and a covered drop-off area scheduled soon for completion. Porches that run the length of the back of the clubhouse overlook tennis courts that will undergo reconfiguring and be ready the first week of May. Several sets of double doors lead from the formal dining area to the porches, allowing for easy crowd flow in large gatherings. Spacious bathrooms and opulent men’s and women’s locker rooms, accented by handsome wooden lockers, dot the inside of the 24,000-square-foot facility.
On the walls hang art by artists from Mississippi and the Southeast. NCG Architects, an Atlanta firm that specializes in high-end clubs, designed the building.
“We’re very, very proud,” Chadwick said.
It was difficult to gauge the progress of the new clubhouse because the old one, built in the mid-1960s, stood directly in front of it. When that building was demolished shortly after the new one opened, it was “like revealing a portrait,” Chadwick said.
“There were a lot of good memories in the old building. (Tearing it down) was sad but exciting.”
The new clubhouse has generated a lot of demand for receptions and banquets, says Tom Johnson, head of the club’s building committee. Johnson says one bride even changed her wedding date when she was told that the new clubhouse would be unavailable for the reception the weekend of the original date.
“Since we’ve opened, tons of people have come up and said how good it looks and how much they just absolutely love it,” Johnson said.
In the planning and designing stage, Johnson said his committee made a great effort to pay proper respect to Slew Hester, one of the club’s founders. Johnson feels that was achieved with the memorabilia hanging on the walls of the bar that honors Hester and his contributions to the club.
“We took special care to recreate Slew’s place,” Johnson said.
The landscaping that will cover the site of the old clubhouse will be done by April 10, Chadwick said. Another phase of the project, a new pro shop, will begin in 90 days.
A portion of the construction cost for the new clubhouse was defrayed by tax increment financing (TIF), a tool that uses projected tax revenue growth to finance current improvements. Taxes collected from increased property taxes will reimburse the cost of the bond floated to pay for construction costs.
The Jackson City Council had to approve the TIF structure. Chadwick said before construction began on the new facility that the council recognized the positive economic impact an improved River Hills Club would have on Jackson.
Contact MBJ staff writer Clay Chandler at clay.chandler@ msbusiness.com .
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