Thursday, May 21, 2009

Council denies land use change for Golf Club

Land owners seek backup plan


The plans of Florida Gulf Ventures, owners of The Golf Club who were taking a mulligan on a land use change proposal, fell into a sand trap Wednesday when the proposal was unanimously denied by the Cape Coral City Council.

Despite ongoing negotiations with the Trust for Public Lands and the Cape Coral Community Redevelopment Agency to sell the property, Florida Gulf Ventures representatives said they needed to switch the land use designation of the 175-acre parcel in the southeast from parks and recreation to mixed use as a backup plan.

"We are here today because this is our only opportunity this year to ask for a change this year," said Brian Carlson, a representative for Ryan Companies, the parent company of Florida Gulf Ventures.

Economic analysts with Florida Gulf Ventures said the golf course is not profitable, nor could any structure under the current land use designation be profitable.

"There's simply no evidence that the golf course has ever operated as an economically feasible business venture," economist Dr. Hank Fishkind said. "It just wasn't designed to be one that would attract large amounts of play."

The CRA, which is attempting to purchase the golf course using the nonprofit TPL as an intermediary buyer with the intent of preserving it as a course, disputes that conclusion, despite the harsh economic times.

"I would respectfully disagree with Dr. Fishkind's analysis. From the analyses that have been prepared for us, it doesn't work out that way. We see it as a plus," CRA executive director John Jacobsen said.

The golf course has been left unkempt for the past two years after Florida Gulf Ventures shut it down after determining it is not profitable.

Carlson warned the property needs to be developed should negotiations with the TPL and CRA fall through.

"To date the TPL and the CRA have not come to a deal yet. If the CRA is not successful, we've got to do something with this site - we can't let it sit forever," he said.