Ocean Breeze: Beach & Park District Reopens Bid For Golf Course Architect; Boca City Council Approves Issue Of Bond

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By: Diane Emeott Korzen Contributing Writer

Ready for another round of presentations from golf course architects?

Latest developments in the quest to transform the defunct Ocean Breeze Golf Course in Boca Teeca into thriving, world-class “Boca National Golf Course ” with up to 27 holes include: 1) reopening of the bid for golf course architect; 2) any day now closing on the golf course property; and 3) recent approval of financing from Boca Raton City Council.

Additional proposals for golf course architect are now due by March 2.

Depending on the number of additional proposals received, the March 5 regular meeting is the earliest time for new presentations to be heard.

A March 12 special meeting has been talked about to allow the public to comment on all of the golf course architect presenters, including the 15 already heard. Ranking of respondents by the Board could potentially begin at the March 19 regular meeting.

As of press time, the 15 golf course architect firms who have presented to-date include:

Monday, Jan. 29: Kipp Schultes Golf Design teed off the presentations; followed by Vincent Design; then Rees Jones, with an appearance by the Juno-based golfer/architect. Hills & Forrest; Richard Mandell; and Arnold Palmer Design closed out the first night.

Thursday, Feb. 1: A second round of presentations included Nicklaus Design; McCumber Wright Venture; Robert Trent Jones (architect sibling of Rees Jones, named after their famous golf course architect father); and Greg Norman Group.

Monday, Feb. 12: The third round brought in: Staples Golf; Price/Fazio Design; Jan Bel Jan; Dusenberry; and Lehman Design (with Boca-based golfer/architect Bernard Langer).

Ocean Breeze closing

The actual closing date for the purchase of the Ocean Breeze Golf Course property is slated for sometime between March 1 and March 15, according to Executive Director of the Greater Boca Raton Beach & Park District Arthur Koski.

Koski said the timing of closing would depend on the city’s ability to obtain their $18 million.

“We have $2.4 million and will require an additional $3.6 million at least,” he said.

According to Koski, the Beach & Park District’s agreement with the City of Boca requires the title for the western portion of the property to be conveyed directly from the seller to the city. “It will be re-conveyed to the District upon repayment of the loan,” he said.

City financing

Boca Council is providing the funds for the Greater Boca Raton Beach & Park District to acquire the Ocean Breeze property, to develop recreational facilities benefiting both city and District residents.The city is issuing a revenue bond, which the District will repay.

Three agenda items involving funding for Ocean Breeze Golf Course were approved last month. The city council agreed to issue a revenue bond not to exceed $20 million and  awarded the sale of the bond to Raymond James Capital Funding, Inc.

Beach and Park District

Just as they were about to discuss when to do ranking of golf course architects [as of Feb. 12 the Beach & Park District Board had heard all 15 presenters who responded to the District’s original RFP] the Board instead voted 3 to 2 to reopen the bid to additional firms – with Chairman Robert Rollins Jr. and Vice Chair Steve Engel voting against.

Executive Director Koski said he had been approached by additional firms who wondered whether the Board would consider opening it up again.

Commissioner Erin Wright asked, “Is it legally okay to reopen the RFP?

Some in their presentations didn’t include the hotel site, some did…” (Commissioner Craig Ehrnst pointed out earlier that the majority of the 15 presenters recommended an 18-hole course)

[The RFP states: “redesign and rebuilding of a 27-hole golf course (formerly known as Ocean Breeze).”]

Koski recommended that, in the interest of fairness, the 15 who had presented already be allowed to submit supplemental information; and that the board hear additional respondents in the interest of providing the Board with all the best information.

Said Chairman Rollins – “We have so much information now. We have information overload. We’re going to have a challenge getting it down to [the top ranked vendors] without opening it up to more.”

Vice Chair Steven Engel added, “At some point we have to draw the line!”

However, his motion to not allow additional vendors died for lack of a second.

Koski also asked the Board to consider whether they would wish to deem someone who is not chosen as architect to be their consultant in selecting a golf course architect firm.

Commissioner Craig Ehrnst said he supported the idea of a consultant;“but only after we make our selection.”