Thursday, February 15, 2007


Town hall meeting regarding future of The Golf Club

When: Wednesday February 21st, 2007

Time: 6:30-8:30

Where: Cape Coral Association of Realtors
918 SE 46th Lane, Club Square

Sponsor: Cape Coral Council-women Dolores Bertolini

Alert your neighbors and friends. Please plan to attend.


Appraisals to be discussed
Golf Club options topic of town hall meeting

By Don Ruane

Originally posted on February 15, 2007

An appraisal of $13.7 million for The Golf Club might entice Cape Coral officials to purchase its second golf course.

Neighboring residents, who have watched home values drop since the course closed in July, would favor such a move.

But what residents might not like is that a second appraisal puts the value of the land at $28 million and says its best use is for residential development.

The appraisals were released Monday evening at the City Council meeting. Council had asked for the appraisals to determine whether or not the city might be interested in buying the 175-acre property, which once was an 18-hole golf course, driving range and clubhouse.

City council member Dolores Bertolini wants to know what residents think. She has called a town hall meeting for Wednesday, Feb. 21, at the Cape Coral Association of Realtors building in Club Square.

“Now that we have the appraisals it's come down to the time to make a decision,” said City Councilwoman Dolores Bertolini, who called the meeting for 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Her district includes the course.

“The residents really need to have their views presented before the committee of the whole meeting,” Bertolini said. “I want to see if the climate has changed.”

The city council will discuss the property at 3 p.m. Monday, Feb. 26.

Southeast Eighth Avenue resident Vincent Parella, 69, said he wants it to be a golf course or a city park.

“If run properly it can be run very competitively,” Parella said. “Everyone’s been quite upset about it. The longer it goes on the greater the cost is going to be to reopen it as a golf course.”

The course, which closed July 31 because of mounting debt, was the home of the city’s first golf course. The first rounds of golf were played in 1961.

Owners tried to sell the course two years ago, but a $28 million deal with the school district fell through after neighbors complained about the plan to put up to five schools there.

The appraisals

Allied Appraisers and Consultants Inc., which prepared the report on the higher of the two appraisals, said building homes there was the best use, but noted a drawback to putting single-family homes there.

“The problem with this use is the value of the surrounding single-family homes and condominium units could be impaired because of not being located on the golf course,” the report said.

The other appraisal report, prepared by Stewart & Co., looked at the property only as a golf course and set the value at $13.8 million. It also said:
“While at the right price it may be possible to continue operation of the golf course without utilizing the course in conjunction with some other development, profitability is problematic,” the Stewart report said. “It would be more likely to be successful if the owners of the golf course were able to develop additional residential units on the site, or reopen the course as a membership course in conjunction with some other large residential development with the Cape Coral area.”

The appraisal amount includes about $5.8 million that will be needed to restore the course and the clubhouse.

A 2006 city staff report said renovations would cost $8 million to $10 million.

The future

The best thing is for a private developer to create a golf resort that would draw people to the city, Mayor Eric Feichthaler said.

Price will determine the city’s interest, Feichthaler said.

“If it’s in the top teens or early 20s range we would have to seriously consider going to referendum for it,” Feichthaler said.

Scott Siler, a partner in Florida Gulf Venture LLC, which owns the property, and Bertolini have met four times about the course's future.

“We made no offers. None whatsoever. We were waiting for the appraisals to come back,” Bertolini said. “It’ll be the council’s decision which way we want to go.”

Siler said he’s willing to talk with the city once officials have studied the appraisals.
No other deals for the course are pending at this time, he said.

The appraisal values are about the same as previous ones, Siler said. He hasn’t read them both and declined to comment on them.

Two previous appraisals set values of $28 million and $30 million. The Lee County School District tried to buy the property in 2005 for $26 million, but withdrew the offer in the face of protests by adjacent residents.

A 2006 report produced by the city’s economic development office said an acceptable price for use as a golf course would be $12 to $14 million.City economic development director Mike Jackson offered the city’s assistance to Siler and anyone interested in buying the course.

“If he wants something from us, he should give us a call,” Jackson said.