Wednesday, August 26, 2009

CRA embarks on purchasing golf course sans intermediary

Board to get appraiser to assess value of land


The Cape Coral Community Redevelopment Agency will attempt to buy The Golf Course on its own after talks with a potential intermediary buyer broke down last month.

CRA officials met Tuesday with representatives of Florida Gulf Venture, the current owner of the 175-acre parcel in the southeast Cape, to discuss the possible purchase.

"This was the first time ... that they actually sat down to negotiate with us directly," said John Jacobsen, executive director of the CRA.

Later Tuesday, CRA board members voted unanimously to hire an appraiser to assess the value of the property.

A separate appraiser for Florida Gulf Venture will conduct its own appraisal. The two parties will then try to reconcile the numbers and come to an agreement on the price.

Florida Gulf Venture's first attempt to sell the course to the Trust for Public Lands, a nonprofit organization the CRA wanted to use as an intermediary buyer, fell through due to an impasse over the price.

Representatives of Florida Gulf Venture and the Trust for Public Lands have declined to divulge the monetary values involved in the negotiations.

Jacobsen said the parties also could not agree on a methodology of appraisal, which contributed to the dissolution of the talks.

"The appraisal has never been completed," he said.

The CRA planned to use the Trust for Public Lands to buy the golf course and pay the nonprofit back over time to avoid incurring debt in the course of the purchase.

Now, however, the CRA will look into bonds and other loans to pay for the golf course.

But a purchase price must first be agreed upon, and the breakdown in negotiations has delayed the purchase by several months, Jacobsen said.

Despite the setback, residents who live nearby the golf course are in favor of the CRA's plan to buy the course and restore it.

Florida Gulf Venture shut down the course three years ago because it was losing money.

Residents with property close to the course say the subsequent overgrowth and decay of the area has contributed to falling home values, becoming a blight on the neighborhood.

Save Our Recreation, a group of nearby residents dedicated to restoring the golf course, has consistently spoken out against Florida Gulf Venture's attempts to develop the land.

"Save Our Recreation is behind the CRA 100 percent," said Mary Neilson, president of Save Our Recreation.

City officials are also supportive of the plan. Mayor Jim Burch, city council liaison to the CRA, said he is confident the CRA will not be overloaded with debt if it purchases the golf course.

"They have good leadership. They have good legal advice, so I'm sure that whatever they do it's going to be financially viable for them," he said.

Cape golf course negotiations back on the table • August 25, 2009

Don’t reserve your tee time yet. But city officials say there is again hope the defunct Golf Club of Cape Coral could reopen.

The course’s owners Tuesday morning met with officials from the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency with the hope that they could hash out a deal to put the course in public hands. The meeting comes a month after representatives with Florida Gulf Venture, the course’s owner, walked away from the negotiating table.

Kent Carlson and Mark Anderson, partners with the investment group, met CRA executive director John Jacobsen and consultant Frank Schnidman Tuesday at the CRA’s downtown office.

“They looked at us and said we’re here to let you know we want to make this deal work,” Schnidman said. “In all of real estate negotiations it’s a matter of posturing. They let us know they wanted to make this happen. We let them know we’re going to this in a transparent, honest way.”

The course’s owners shuttered the course in 2006 claiming it was no longer profitable. Attempts to sell the course, however, fell through. The course has since sat vacant succumbing to weeds and neglect. The clubhouse is no longer standing.

Jacobsen last year proposed expanding the CRA to encompass the course 175-acre course, breaking the stalemate.

The CRA brought in the Trust for Public Land, a national nonprofit land conservation group, to handle the negotiations and act as an interim buyer. In July, the owners cut off negotiations with the trust after the two couldn’t agree on a price. Neither side disclosed the asking price. Carlson did say in a letter, however, that the owners were asking for 35 to 50 percent more than the trust was offering.

For the latest round of negotiations with the CRA, both groups will hire an appraiser. With the numbers on the table, the groups can then begin serious negotiations on a price. The property this year is assessed at about $2.8 million for tax purposes.

“I still feel that there’s a future for the golf course,” said councilwoman Dolores Bertolini. “ And I think that when all avenues have been explored by the owner, it will return to what it once was.”

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

City, CRA seek to revive negotiations on The Golf Course

Trust for Public Lands no longer to play part


Cape Coral city officials are hoping negotiations to sell The Golf Course can be restarted after they broke down last month.

Florida Gulf Venture, owner of the 175-acre site of the golf course in the southeast Cape, had signed a purchase agreement with the nonprofit Trust for Public Lands in April.

It pulled away from that agreement last month, balking at TPL's maximum price, which was 30 percent to 50 percent less than the asking price.

Representatives for Florida Gulf Venture and TPL have declined to divulge the monetary values involved in the negotiations.

Councilmember Dolores Bertolini sat down with Florida Gulf Venture representatives Monday, and said any deal with TPL is dead.
"They've suspended any negotiations with TPL," she said.

But that does not mean the plan to purchase and refurbish the golf course, which was shut down three years ago due to lack of profitability, is over.

Cape Coral Community Redevelopment Agency officials will meet with Florida Gulf Venture today to discuss the possible purchase of the course.

The CRA had originally intended to use the TPL as an intermediary buyer, paying the organization back over time. With a budget of $4.7 million this year, the CRA's buying power is limited.

John Jacobsen, executive director of the CRA, said Florida Gulf Venture is anxious to get a deal done. "The deal is by no means dead. They asked for this meeting, we didn't ask for this meeting," he said.

There seem to be little alternatives for Florida Gulf Venture or the city.

The city has repeatedly denied Florida Gulf Venture a land use change in order to develop the property, something nearby residents vehemently oppose.

But the city, given its recent budget struggles, is not likely to augment any money the CRA can throw at buying the tract.

Yet officials remain optimistic.

"We're going to see what they have to offer in the morning," Jacobsen said.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Hurry!!! Absentee Voters How To Request A Ballot By Mail


To request a Ballot By Mail, or for answers to questions, that are not covered below, please call our Absentee Department at 239-533-6919 or by fax at 239-533-6913.

Any registered voter in Lee County may request a Ballot by Mail. Requests for these ballots may be submitted for single, multiple, or all elections within a calendar year.
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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Redevelopment plan to P&Z Video

CRA advisor, Frank Schnidman, explains the redevelopment plan to the Planning
and Zoning commission.

Watch from approx 9 minutes in for about 45 minutes.

Video only works for Windows users on Internet Explorer.


Wednesday, August 05, 2009

City board approves Cape Coral CRA's plans for Golf Club

news-press • August 5, 2009

Cape Coral’s Community Redevelopment Agency passed another bureaucratic hurdle today on its way to owning the defunct Golf Club of Cape Coral.

But the step forward comes after negotiations with the course’s owners took a step back.

The owners, doing business as Florida Gulf Venture, last month walked away from the negotiating table, saying they wanted more for the property.

“In all honesty we’re going to end up with a golf course,” said CRA consultant Frank Schnidman. “It’s just going to take time.”

In order for the CRA - a pseudo-governmental agency - to purchase the 175-acre course, it needed to expand its district borders to envelope the course and it needed approval for its plans.

Both the Planning and Zoning Commission and the City Council have already endorsed the expansion. Tuesday, the planning board agreed that the plan fit into the city’s comprehensive plan - a minor but necessary step.

While the local government appears behind the plan to transfer the course to public hands, the course’s owners are holding out for more money. That tactic, Schnidman said, will get them nowhere.

While the owners have not disclosed their asking price, Schnidman said it’s likely somewhere between Lee County’s assessment of the property, $2.8 million, and the mortgage on the property, which is in the neighborhood of $10 million.

“Like anyone else who bought land in 2004, they (Florida Gulf Venture) overpaid,” Schnidman said. “This is a CRA that has a responsibility to wisely use our resources, not bail out a real estate investor’s scheme.”

Monday, August 03, 2009


Planning and Zoning will discuss the redevelopment plan and its consistency with the city's comprehensive plan in order to allow the CRA to purchase the golf course.

This will be 1st up on the agenda. Please be there promptly at 9 a.m.

Place; City Hall council chambers

Date; Wednesday, August 5th

Time; 9 a.m.