Shuttered golf course properties have become “the latest construction frontier,” as developers look for available greenspace in a region where land scarcity has led to rising acreage costs. “If golf had stayed wildly popular, it would make it even more difficult to solve the housing problems we have in Southeast Florida,” said one expert.
Construction crews soon will pour concrete over the greens and sand traps at the long-closed Oak Tree Golf Course in Oakland Park, Fla., to make way for 405 single-family homes and townhouses, Law.com reported.
The development follows the fate of the Hillcrest Golf Course in Hollywood, Fla., which is now home to over 300 residences, with more to come, Law.com reported. The story is the same at Boca Lago Country Club in Boca Raton, Fla., where one of two courses will be built on (https://clubandresortbusiness.com/developer-purchases-portion-boca-lago-cc-8-3m/).
South Florida golf courses are the latest construction frontier as developers home in on financially strained greenspace, Law.com reported. The courses are welcomed by builders facing land scarcity.
“It’s probably a combination of the struggle of the golf industry, where there’s just too many golf courses in South Florida, combined with the lack of developable land in South Florida, because you have natural constraints with the ocean and the Everglades,” Brent Baker, who leads the Southeast Florida division of homebuilder PulteGroup Inc., told Law.com.
“There’s a lot of natural constraints,” Baker added. “There’s not a lot of land. Some of these closed golf courses become sites that developers like ourselves want to look at, to see if there’s any viability in converting [them] from golf course to residential.” As South Florida courses began to close, developers like Pulte started taking a hard look at them in 2015, Baker told Law.com.
PulteGroup, based in Atlanta, Ga. with an office in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., is currently developing on four South Florida golf courses, Law.com reported.
The former Hillcrest course near Memorial Regional Hospital South is set to become the Parkview at Hillcrest, Law.com reported. A total of 645 single-family homes ranging from three to six bedrooms will be built, with half already completed.
Pulte also is building the 130-home Boca Flores, a 55-and-older community on an 18-hole course at Boca Lago Country Club, Law.com reported. The country club kept its other18-hole golf course.
Similarly, the 152-home Enclaves at Woodmont, another Pulte project, is rising on part of the Woodmont Country Club in Tamarac, Fla., with about 20 homes, varying from two to six bedrooms, now completed. Woodmont closed nine holes where Pulte is building the homes, and kept a 27-hole course open.
Another target, Law.com reported, may be the 36-hole Inverrary Country Club in Lauderhill, Fla., which has said it will close next June after opening in 1970 (https://clubandresortbusiness.com/inverrary-cc-announces-shutdown-date/).
“After many years of operational losses where revenues have not been sufficient to cover the expenses, the club ownership has determined that golf course operations are no longer viable at Inverrary,” said David Husman, a partner at Inverrary owner Victorville West LP. “It is time to redevelop the entire property to other permitted uses.”
At the same time the course closures have accelerated due to the golf market stabilizing after its boom era in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Law.com reported, the land has taken on higher value as a development site.
“When courses close whether in South Florida or elsewhere, it’s typically because there’s enough existing supply in the area. Often, it is also tied to the value of the land itself,” Eric Matuszewski of the National Golf Foundation told Law.com. “Many owners sell as part of a planned exit strategy, and that valuable land is then used for higher and better uses, whether that’s development or open space.
Pulte paid $10.2 million for 44 acres at Woodmont, or $231,818 per acre, and $25 million for the 150-acre Hillcrest property, or $166,667 per acre, Law.com reported. The price is not necessarily cheaper than other land deals that don’t involve golf course properties, and the houses that are built on the courses sell at market rates.
Still, golf courses making way for new housing could be good news for the affordable housing crisis by expanding the housing stock, Law.com reported.
Ken Johnson, a professor at Florida Atlantic University, said golf course redevelopment, although often opposed by neighbors, is generally good news for nearby property owners and public coffers.
“If you are on a course that’s been poorly maintained or it’s vacant, it’s not helping your land value,” Johnson said. “To have new housing developed around you is probably positive, as long as its quality and style is similar to what’s around the golf course.”
But it won’t be seen as good news for existing homeowners of manicured $750,000 homes to get a next-door condominium development at $250,000 per unit, Law.com noted.
“Golf courses in general are a net positive to the supply of land to develop property. Without them, things would be worse than they are,” Johnson said. “If golf had stayed wildly popular, then it would make it even more difficult to solve the housing problems we have in Southeast Florida.”