Under a proposal by Lennar Corp., which is under contract to buy Ocean Breeze Golf Club, the homebuilder would give the city ownership of Ocean Breeze in exchange for Boca Raton Municipal Golf Course, for which Lennar is offering $37.5 million. The deal would be contingent on approval for 400 building plots for houses and 200 multifamily units on the municipal course.
Under a deal still being developed, the city of Boca Raton, Fla., could sell one golf course to prevent another from being turned into homes, the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Sun Sentinel reported.
Ocean Breeze Golf Club, the only public championship course in the city, closed earlier this month and is under contract to be sold by Wells Fargo Bank to a subsidiary of homebuilding giant Lennar Corp. But with that sale still pending, Lennar on Tuesday sent a letter to Boca’s mayor with another proposal: Lennar would give the city ownership of Ocean Breeze Golf Club, in exchange for the city agreeing to sell it the Boca Raton Municipal Golf Course, for which Lennar is offering $37.5 million, the Sentinel reported.
The appraised value of Ocean Breeze would be subtracted from the $37.5 million, and the city would pocket any leftover money. “If we can craft this purchase/swap in which the city has a brand new golf course in the city and walks away with cash as well, it’ll be a win-win for everyone,” Mayor Susan Haynie said, adding that the $37.5 million purchase price is not set in stone.
The proposed deal would be contingent on Lennar’s gaining approval for 400 building plots for houses and 200 multifamily units on the municipal course, which is located just outside the city limits. It could take as many as 18 months for Lennar to get the necessary approvals and another year for construction, meaning two and half years could pass before there would be homes on the site, the Sentinel reported.
The nine-hole Red Reef Executive Golf Course in east Boca is currently the only public golf course open in the city. There has been no mention of a sale of that city-owned course, the Sentinel reported.
Lennar had initially told the city in May it would be interested in buying the Boca Raton Municipal Golf Course for $28 million, but again approached the city with the new proposal after residents campaigned against putting homes on the Ocean Breeze course, the Sentinel reported.
Ocean Breeze, a 27-hole course, is the largest green space reserved for recreation left in Boca Raton. Any developer would need support from Boca Teeca property owners to make the land anything other than a golf course, the Sentinel reported.
“The city with a prestigious golf course in the center of town would be just priceless,” Boca Teeca resident Harold Chaffee said. “It would be a legacy left for everyone, for the kids. for generations to come. If this land is developed or gone, it’s gone forever.”
Developers are targeting golf courses across South Florida as land becomes scarce. Interest in recreational golf is waning, and declining membership fees are not enough to cover maintenance costs at many courses. Haynie has supported selling the western municipal golf course over the years “but the market was bad,” she said.
“I was on the record early on saying I want to get out of the golf business,” she said during a public meeting Tuesday. “But after meeting with so many [Boca Teeca residents], a lot of people have expressed interest in having a public golf course in the city of Boca Raton.”
She told Boca Teeca residents she thinks Lennar’s recent proposal “may be a solution you’re all looking for,” the Sentinel reported.
Audrey Schwartz Dineen, vice president of the Boca Teeca Unit Owners Association, pleaded with the council Tuesday to take ownership of the Ocean Breeze course, the Sentinel reported.
“This would solve a myriad of problems, and it would put a golf course within the city limits,” she said. “It would give the city a property that would create revenue and jobs and satisfy almost 3,000 residents in the plat.”
The Ocean Breeze course would require $3 million to remove arsenic, Haynie said. “The course is in terrible condition,” she said. “It would take several millions to bring it back to life.”
On the other hand, the Boca Raton Municipal Golf Course is in good order, and it doesn’t appear that the city is losing money by keeping it open, officials have said. It includes an 18-hole championship course and a 9-hole executive course. The two courses totaled more than 79,000 rounds in the city’s 2014-15 fiscal year, the Sentinel reported.
Lennar, which reported homebuilding revenue of more than $9 billion in fiscal year 2015, is not the only developer to express interest in buying the municipal course. Since mid-May, the city has received a proposal from CC Residential to buy the course for $42 million and one from Compson Boca Argent LLC to buy it for $31.2 million, the Sentinel reported.
Like with Lennar’s, each proposal would require zoning, land-use and site-plan approvals from the county, Haynie said. It’s expected the county will be amenable to a reasonable number of units, she said, the Sentinel reported.
City staff is “going to analyze all of the other proposals we have in place and perhaps next month come back to the council with a comprehensive report,” Haynie said. “We have to make certain it’s a good deal from all sides.”