Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Land use change proposed for Golf Club pushed back; Vote from P&Z to wait


A controversial proposal to change the land designation of the former Cape Coral Golf Club that would allow the property to be commercially developed has been “temporarily postponed,” according to a consultant for the owner, Florida Gulf Ventures.

The issue was scheduled to come up during today’s Planning and Zoning Commission meeting, but has been canceled.

“We didn’t think it would be prudent to go through with it at this time,” consultant Bill Nolan said Tuesday. “It’s not been withdrawn at this time but delayed. The proposal is temporarily postponed.”

Florida Gulf Ventures acquired the 177-acre golf course in 2000. The company’s plan to change the golf course’s land designation from parks and recreation to mixed use called for 800 residential units, 325,000 square feet of retail space and 100,000 square feet of office space.

Residents who live nearby the golf course have come out against the plan.

“We would like to see it remain a golf course,” said Cape Coral resident Neil Smith, who lives on the southeast corner of the property.

Smith said he believes the developer pulled the proposal in anticipation of a negative vote by planning and zoning.

“I would interpret this as they did not think it was going to pass,” he said.

The plan’s application process is now on hold as Florida Gulf Ventures reconsiders its options. What exactly those options are remains unclear, although Nolan said the land will eventually be developed.

“Something is going to be done,” he said

Development of Golf Club in Cape Coral handicapped

By Brian Liberatore • • July 23, 2008

Plans to turn a former Cape Coral golf course from green fairways into shops and condos appear trapped in deep rough.

With an apparent lack of support from elected officials and city staff, the owners of the defunct The Golf Club have abandoned plans — for now — to turn the 175 acres into retail space, offices and condominiums.

But exactly what will happen to property and whether it will ever see life again as a golf course are still up in the air. The course, which closed in July 2006, seems destined to remain an overgrown field for at least the next several months.

“We’d like to see it back as a golf course,” said Henry Heerlyn, whose home backs up to the course. “Personally, I wouldn’t be opposed to a park. But the problem is the city has no money.”

The owners are reaching out to the city and residents in an effort to find a compromise that keeps their investment profitable. Over the next week, the company will be looking to form a committee of city officials, elected representatives and neighbors to hammer out ideas for the site, according William Nolan, a consultant for the owners, who are doing business under Florida Gulf Ventures.

“If the community is unhappy with what goes there, it fails,” Nolan said. “The worst thing we could do is build it and they don’t come.”

While open to discussion, a group of surrounding residents, who helped drive resistance to the land use change, shows few signs of bending.

“We’re going to stay fast. We want it to be developed as an 18-hole golf course,” said Joe Mazurkiewicz, owner of BJM Consulting. Under the name Save Our Recreation, neighbors hired Mazurkiewicz, a former Cape Coral mayor, to represent their cause.

An assessment from the city in early 2007 set the land’s value at $28 million for residential uses and about $13.8 million for use as a golf course. The county set the land’s taxable value at $2.8 million this year — $2 million less than two years ago.

Since 2005, the group has paid about $165,000 in property taxes, plus cost of maintaining the property. Heerlyn said the grass on the course is mowed fairly regularly.

Gladys Banderas, who lives next to the course, said she was frustrated by the progress of the course.

“The view now, it’s bad” she said. “When we moved here 12 years ago, the view was very nice.”

Despite the residents’ accusations, the course was mismanaged, Nolan said, adding that the property is not profitable as a golf course.

The course’s owners indicated the club had accumulated a $3 million operating debt in the five years leading up to its closure.

“The bottom line is it just doesn’t work,” Nolan said. People won’t pay the greens fees high enough to keep the property afloat, he said.

The course had been open since the 1960s, was the Cape’s oldest course and a centerpiece of recreational and social activity. It hosted the 1972 NCAA men’s golf championship and numerous other events.

The city’s Planning and Zoning Commission was set to hear a request today from the group to change the zoning. City staff had recommended the commission vote against the change. Members on City Council have echoed the sentiment in recent meetings.

Dolores Bertolini, who represents the district, came out against the mixed-use development plan. Bertolini said she would have liked to see the project go before the planning commission and the council where it likely would have been shot down.

“It’s a continuing saga of what do we do with this property,” Bertolini. “Unfortunately the poor residents of that are left in abeyance.”

Monday, July 21, 2008

Do NOT attend meeting Wednesday, Applicant has Withdrwan

It will NOT be necessary to attend the Planning & Zoning meeting this Wednesday, July 23rd.

Florida Gulf Ventures have withdrawn their application at this time with the option to bring it back in February 2009. I attended the Council meeting tonight. Mayor Feichthaler took Ordinance 87-08 off the agenda and it will NOT go before council on Monday, August 4.

Please make EVERYONE aware that you may have called or emailed and asked to attend the meetings.

Thank you all for your hard work in getting the word out. It was amazing. I heard from enormous number of residents and anticipated a very large crowd. This is fantastic since many residents are summering up north.

I remain committed and will continue to work diligently to Save The Golf Course.

Thank you again.

Best Regards,

Mary Save Our Recreation

Sunday, July 20, 2008


It is IMPORTANT that ALL residents ATTEND this meeting. Call your neighbors & friends today.

Wednesday, July 23rd at 9 a.m.

City Hall in Council Chambers

Ordinance 87-08

The owners/developers, Florida Gulf Ventures, application to amend the future Land Use of the Golf Club from Parks and Recreation to Mixed Use will be heard by the Planning & Zoning Commission this Wednesday, July 23rd at 9 a.m. The commission will vote to recommend denial or approval of the Land Use change at this meeting. It is urgent we have a large number from the community in attendance

I know this will be a very emotional time for everyone. Please remember to be respectful of all speakers and refrain from outbursts and/or applause.

Plan to carpool and wear your Save Our Recreation shirts or something Green.

For those of you out of town, you may view the meeting LIVE Wednesday at 9 a.m. EST. Go to , click on the "quick links" tab and select Cape Tv live from the drop down menu.

Thank you for your continued support and commitment to save the golf course.


Golf Club site gets ‘mixed use’ proposal


The question of what to do with the old Cape Coral Golf Club will come before the Planning and Zoning Commission Wednesday, as officials are expected to decide whether to approve the request of the club’s current owner to turn the club into a mixed use property.

The proposed plan from developer Florida Gulf Ventures, calls for 800 residential units, 325,000 square feet of retail space, and 100,000 square feet of mixed use office space.

P&Z Commissioner Gene Wolfe said the proposed plan has a “beautiful layout,” but density is likely to be a concern.

He added that he does not think the property can continue as a golf course, as area courses have been losing money. But he does think the property is ripe for development, whatever it may turn out to be.

“I say you can’t let it sit idle,” Wolfe said. “The ideal thing would be to have it where you could have everything in there for a convention center. But, where does the money come from? I’ll fight anything that uses city money.”

Save our Recreation, a citizen’s group that wants the property to remain a golf course, will plead its case to the commission on Wednesday.

Former Cape mayor and SOR consultant Joe Mazurkiewicz said re-opening the course would protect surrounding club neighbors and honor the city’s history.

He called the course’s current state a “mess,” and said it was all part of the current owner’s strategy to sell the property for development.

“We understand, as a golf course with the current amenities, there is no way to make it financially feasible,” Mazurkiewicz said, adding that it would be in the best interest of the private sector to develop he course for public use.

Whether the commission as a whole votes to block the developer’s plans remains to be seen, but city officials already are planning a recommendation to deny the project’s progression forward.

Bill Nolan, a consultant for developer Florida Gulf Ventures, declined to comment on Friday.

For Joe Mazurkiewicz, who played the course back in the 1960s, re-opening the course for future generations is a no-brainer.

“If you can’t make a golf course work in the middle of 50,000 people with disposable income in Florida, you’re not doing something right,” he said.

The Planning and Zoning commission will meet at 9 a.m., Wednesday, July 23, in city council chambers.

City planner Wyatt Daltry did not return a phone call seeking comment on the city’s proposed recommendation.