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Monday
Dec172012

AT&T SVP: We Want A Non-Profit Architect For Our $150,000 Membership Course In Dallas

AT&T Senior Vice President Ron Spears, heading up the Trinity Forest project in South Dallas that hopes to get some government breaks and host the Byron Nelson someday, is insisting that architects and the project manager of the new semi-private club in south Dallas work on a non-profit basis.

Why?

Because they've lumped a First Tee onto the project and the club is a non-profit.

Rudolph Bush in the Dallas Morning News reports the remarks from Spears.

“No one gets to make a profit out of this. That’s been our intent from the beginning in the way we thought about putting it all together.” Spears said. “This is a not-for-profit in every way.”

So sweet hearing a corporate officer preach the gospel of non-profiteering! And...

Senior officials at AT&T and SMU have not yet selected an architect or project manager. But Spears said he is making it clear to anyone who wants to be involved that they can cover their time and costs and nothing else.

“If you don’t buy into the mission of the club, then it may not be the club for you,” he said. “This is not something for a bunch of rich people. We’re trying to do something good for the city of Dallas, for the kids of South Dallas and to help SMU bring a national championship to Dallas.”

And the First Tee of course is at the heart of this plan...

Spears, though, indicated that the club is intended to operate in a more open and inclusive way than many of the exclusive private courses that host professional golf’s most prestigious tournaments.

The inclusion of First Tee of Dallas will help ensure that, he said.

And that’s going to be attractive to architects and project managers who Spears has already spoken to, he said.

“People are looking at it and saying, ‘I really want to get involved in something for a change that is not just a bunch of guys with lots of money building a toy for themselves,’” he said.

And how, with $150,000 memberships for the "semi-private" club, is this not a bunch of guys with money building a toy for themselves?

Thankfully, Spears and friends will pay and pay dearly for this approach.

They won't get an architect who works on the Coore/Crenshaw model of a modest fee while paying for their shaping team which works in lieu of a primary contractor.

Instead, AT&T will get an architect who puts together big pretty plans, announces he'll work for free because his life is devoted to charity as said architect then creates an arrangement with a contractor or requires the use of his preferred contractor, making his money through a side deal. Sadly, this arrangement was all too common in the Roaring 90s and led to costly change orders that only enriched the architects further.

Ultimately, assuming the quality architects demand their very reasonable fee, Trinity Forest will go the way of so many others and leave Dallas with an overbuilt, over-budget, underwhelming mess.

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Reader Comments (21)

I nominate Rees...seems like the perfect guy for the job!
12.18.2012 | Unregistered CommenterTravis Bickle
I am done being Travis Bickle, as there is no measure of humor otherwise associated with that name that should exist after Sandy Hook. I shall now go by Talking Head. "Same as it ever was"
12.18.2012 | Unregistered CommenterTalking Head
Amen, Shack. Firstly, if this clown is so altruistic in his effort to avoid profiteering, maybe he should divert some of the naked and pure profit his company reaps from say, text messaging, and subsidize an adequate design team that way. That its co-residents will ultimately be students from SMU, the avatar of spoiled insularity, is also not lost on anyone familiar with life in "The Bubble".
12.18.2012 | Unregistered CommenterAce
Parading your tax exempt status in order to pilfer massive donations under the guise of a "charitable purpose"? I for one am stunned that SMU would be involved in something like this . . .
12.18.2012 | Unregistered CommenterRyan
Is it gonna be semi public or semi private? Sounds like its trying to be a corporate Common Ground to me. Hopefully the kids get it for free...
12.18.2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmen Coroner
Does he think SMU students will drive that far to save some of daddie's money?

On other thoughts...

This has future investigation written all over it...and everyone walks.
12.18.2012 | Unregistered Commenterdigsouth
Hey, that non-profit *&^% works so well for the PGA Tour.
12.18.2012 | Unregistered CommenterJoey
How does the guy from AT&T purport to assess what "cost" is for a golf course architect?
12.18.2012 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
It's like insurance companies telling doctors what ''fair and reasonable charges'' are, and not paying the actual bill.
12.18.2012 | Unregistered Commenterdigsouth
Or maybe, since nobody is building golf courses anymore, and achies are starving, a low fee and a piece of the construction of a high-profile project is a pretty good deal for a starving archie. Compared to, you know, starving.
12.18.2012 | Unregistered CommenterCypress
Cypress,
Nice summation of the corporate America mindset today.

I'm curious, when times are good, should they charge triple?

If the project is about quality, you pay people what they deserve. All of the "minimalists" listed as possible architects are not the types to gouge and they have track records of modestly budgeted projects except maybe Doak's thing in Palm Springs, but that was a silly site.
12.18.2012 | Registered CommenterGeoff
What a self inflated pile of BS. So how much is AT&T donating to this worthy project since they're demanding everyone else do it for free? Using the First Tee to hide behind building another high cost, private membership club is appalling.

My hope is the golf course industry AND the general public see right through this and call Spears and those from AT&T out on such a hypocritical proposal.
12.18.2012 | Unregistered CommenterKFry
Come on Geoff, are you suggesting that when times were good back in the 90's that some popular architects weren't charging triple?

I'm not defending the stance that this project should be done at cost as I feel that an honest effort should be rewarded with honest compensation, but there are plenty of guys who took advantage when times were good. To make corporate america out to be a villain for taking this stance seems like a double standard.

That said, with so few domestic projects being posted these days I'm sure if they'd just post the RFP out quietly I'm sure they'd find that the laws of supply and demand would have returned results very near "non profit" with a much broader group of quality architects to select from.
12.18.2012 | Unregistered Commentere9golf
This kind of reminds me of Mike Whan's idea that the LPGA should contest an event that did not pay the players....that one flew like a lead balloon, too.
12.18.2012 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
"AT&T officials have already interviewed several renowned golf course architects, including Coore & Crenshaw, Tripp Davis and Associates and Tom Doak’s Renaissance Design."

Mr. Shackelford: wondering if you are being considered as the architect for this project?
12.18.2012 | Unregistered CommenterBobby D
I assume that AT&T will pledge to not offset any tax liability with their donations to this project then?
12.18.2012 | Unregistered CommenterMichael
As a SMU alum, I can tell you that SMU students will not be trekking out there to pay a big fee for the course. When I was there, we trekked out to Tennison, Keeton, and Stevens Park for a cheap round with all our friends and where questionable behavior is tolerated.

A few years ago, Pete Dye did Wintonberry Hills near Hartford for something like a $1 fee. Given the limitations in budget, he did a great job on the course.

While some of the PGA Tour stops are "barely" charities, the Salesmanship Club had raised enormous somes of money from the Byron Nelson Tourney. With ATT and SMU behind the project, I suspect that they are going to lean hard on everyone involved in the project to "donate" towards the charitable entity. Plus, if the course itself is a non-profit, it may be exempt from local property taxes.

Membership Criteria: If you dontate $150,000 to charity X, you may purchase a membership for $Y.
12.18.2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrad Ford
I am saying the laws of supply and demand still hold.
12.18.2012 | Unregistered Commentercypress
I have two personal friends who are Salesmanship Club members, they do a tremendous job with the Nelson Tourn. and with thier volunteer work for charity. I would say involvement from the Salesmanship Club would go a long way toward success with this new venture plus the economy in Texas is "better than most"
12.18.2012 | Unregistered CommenterBobby D
this story should be next to the word "gall" in the dictionary...or ""hypocrite"
12.18.2012 | Unregistered Commenterchicago pt
Perhaps another strategy is to announce that the course will almost certainly host Olympic Golf next time they are in the US and get 6 submissions from the stars.

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