Boca to iron out future of municipal golf courses at upcoming meeting

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By: Marisa Gottesman Associate Editor
Boca’s municipal golf course, which despite its name isn’t located in the city, is a desired piece of property by developers.
The city has received multiple offers from developers interested in purchasing the land for proposed development projects and council members are scheduled to discuss how to move forward with the proposals this month.
“We have a basic policy decision,” Mayor Susan Haynie said at an August workshop discussing the topic. “Do we want to be in the golf business in Boca Raton?”
That decision will likely come during a meeting in September.
The golf course in question is nearly 200 acres that includes an 18-hole championship course, a nine-hole executive course, a clubhouse, a driving range and putting greens at 8111 Golf Course Road.
That land is a prime place for developers prompting several unsolicited proposals to buy it. It isn’t uncommon for South Florida developers to target golf courses for development because the sport has struggled in recent years.
But many Boca golfers have expressed concerns to city council members about how important it is to keep golf in the city, event though there has been no talks of selling Red Reef Executive Golf Course, which is located in east Boca along A1A. It is the only public golf course currently open in city limits because Ocean Breeze Golf Club closed in July.
As for the western course some of the developer proposals include: CC Residential proposed paying $42 million to build 1,000 units, Compson Boca Argent LLC offered to buy it for $31.2 million to build 384-single family lots and 150 senior housing units, Toll Brothers offered $38.5 million to build 400 single-family homes and 150 muti-family units and Boca based-Kenco Communities offered $40 million to build 400-single family hones, the city said.
A revised, more complex offer from Lennar Corp. could bring relief to Boca Teeca residents concerned about losing Ocean Breeze Golf Club to development. Lennar Corp is set to close on purchasing that course, which closed in July.
The homebuilders have submitted to a new land swap proposal that would permit Boca to control the championship course Ocean Breeze if the city sells Lennar the Boca Raton Municipal Golf Course.
Lennar proposed paying $37.5 million for the municipal course, which is located west of the turnpike. In May, Lennar had proposed paying $28 million. The deal would hinge on Lennar receiving approval for 400 building plots for houses and 200 multifamily units on the golf course.
Lennar was scheduled to purchase the Ocean Breeze course in a private deal from WellsFargo Bank on July 1, but the closing has been postponed. The purchase price for the 27-hole course located at 5801 NW Second Ave. has not been disclosed.
WellsFargo said the costs of keeping the course open exceeded the amount of money it was bringing in. The club also has millions of deferred maintenance, according to city officials. It will cost more than $3 million to remove arsenic from the site, according to Mayor Susan Haynie.
For the Ocean Breeze course to be turned into homes, residents of Boca Teeca would have to agree to the change. City officials would have to change the zoning of the property as well.
The new proposal from Lennar comes after Boca Teeca residents have pushed the city to get involved in the proposed transaction between the bank and the home builder. Many have advocated for keeping the golf course, including Councilman Jeremy Rodgers.
He said having an 18-hole golf course in the city is important to him.
It isn’t a top priority for Councilman Robert Weinroth who said he would like to see Ocean Breeze kept as a recreational spot, but not necessarily a golf course.
Council members instructed staff to reach out to Palm Beach County officials, who will have to approve any development on the site, to see how much development is appropriate and asked for staff review the proposals to narrow down the list to the best ones.
They also requested more information on the financials of Ocean Breeze and what it would cost to keep the course running in the future.
Those topics will be covered during a council meeting.