Wednesday, August 26, 2009

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.”