Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Community Redevelopment Plan approved by council

Decision may pave way for takeover of Golf Club

By MCKENZIE CASSIDY, mcassidy@breezenewspapers.com

The Cape Coral City Council approved a number of motions Monday night that will help to improve the city's southern district overseen by the Community Redevelopment Agency.

The council approved the new Community Redevelopment Plan. It allows the agency to begin the process of taking control over the historic Golf Club of Cape Coral after the agency's boundaries were expanded in June.

"It is the heart of the city. That golf course, in my opinion, is something that can generate that growth we need," said Mayor Jim Burch.

The Golf Club, owned by Florida Golf Ventures, has been closed for three years. The Redevelopment Trust, paid for by tax increment funds from residents living around the golf course, will front the funds for the course and the CRA will enter into a lease-purchase agreement.

"Over a period of years the title will be transferred to the CRA," said John Jacobsen, executive director of the CRA. "I don't see where it would become a burden to the city."

Councilmember Bill Deile said he is concerned about whether city funds would subsidize the golf course.

The city works off of a tax base of approximately $540 million and any revenue from incremental changes to that tax roll is given to the CRA, explained Mark Mason, financial services director.

Jacobsen said 10 separate golf course operating companies have been contacted and that the agency would sub-lease maintenance of the course to the company chosen. The costs could range from $1.5 million to $5 million to rehabilitate the grounds, he said.

A large group of south Cape Coral residents attended Monday's City Council meeting and stood in approval of the golf course takeover. Some residents, though, spoke out against the deal, stating that golf courses are failing across the country and that now isn't the time for the city to become entangled in the takeover.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Cape Coral council allows group to buy golf course, but sale still in limbo

news-press.com • September 21, 2009

The Cape Coral Community Redevelopment Agency’s plan to take over the Golf Club passed another hurdle tonight. But the most daunting barrier – a purchase agreement – is still holding up the deal.

“It might take a month, it might take six months, it might take a year,” said CRA Executive Director John Jacobsen. “But I’ve very confident we will close this deal.”

The City Council tonight approved the CRA’s plan for the property around the golf course and allowed the CRA to start collecting money for project. The CRA is funded through taxes from increased property values. The agency can only take action that is a part of its master plan, which the council must approve.

The course’s owner Florida Gulf Venture closed the 175-acre course nearly three years ago saying the course was a money losing venture.

The property could become profitable, consultant and former mayor Joe Mazurkiewicz said, with the addition of a hotel, conference center or both.

“I’m optimistic now that the CRA’s got their hands in it,” said Ray Borkowski, whose house abuts the course.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Please Plan to attend this Meeting

Monday September 21 at 4:30

Council chamber at city hall

On September 21, the Cape Coral City Council will be addressing two ordinances relating to the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) ability to purchase the golf course property. The Council has already approved the CRA boundary expansion, and now pursuant to State Statute has before it the Redevelopment Plan Amendment and the modification of the CRA Trust Fund. These two proposed ordinances must be passed to give the CRA the ability to move forward with negotiations to purchase the golf course property. If they are not passed, it effectively terminates the ability of the CRA to continue efforts to acquire the golf course property. The Council vote on September 21 is therefore critical to the future of Cape Coral, as it is in reality a yes or no vote on the preservation of the golf course.

One ordinance before the Council is to approve the Redevelopment Plan Amendment that includes the acquisition of the golf course and its operation as a golf course. The other ordinance is the amendment of the Tax Increment Trust Fund to allow the collection of the increase in real estate taxes from the boundary expansion area, funds that will support the debt service payments on the financing needed to purchase the golf course property.

It is critical that you contact each Council Member and let them know of your support for their passage of the two ordinances to allow the CRA the ability to continue negotiations to purchase the golf course.

Last year, as the golf course property owners were preparing to seek a land use and zoning change for the golf course property, the City sought the CRA assistance to preserve the golf course in a golf course use. The CRA was willing to help, and has diligently worked to fulfill the City’s desires regarding the golf course property.

The critical issue, however, is that the Florida law governing CRAs prohibits a CRA from spending money outside its boundaries, and the boundaries of the Cape Coral CRA did not include the golf course property.

In order to give the CRA the ability to negotiate and purchase the property, the City Council hired a consultant to undertake a “Finding of Necessity” study to examine the conditions in the area surrounding the golf course as well as other areas surrounding the CRA boundary that were already being considered for inclusion within the CRA. The State legislative mandate for any CRA is to alleviate blight, and the Finding of Necessity Study done for the City Council identified the statutorily required blight conditions that allowed the City Council to expand the boundary of the CRA to include the golf course property.

Now the CRA can move forward with the negotiations, but Florida law also mandates that a CRA cannot act on a major project unless the project is in their Redevelopment Plan. The first ordinance being considered by the Council is the amendment to the Cape Coral Redevelopment Plan that includes the golf course purchase and operation as a golf course as a project of the CRA. The second ordinance, also required by Florida law, provides the CRA with the financial ability to purchase the golf course. The second proposed ordinance is the amendment to the Cape Coral CRA Trust Fund that allows the collection of the property tax increase from the boundary expansion area so that these funds collected from the properties most affected by the use of the golf course property can be used to pay for the acquisition of the property.

Again, the Council meeting on September 21 is critical to the future of Cape Coral. It is the yes or no decision on allowing the CRA to continue on the path to golf course property acquisition.

Please contact each and every Council Member to let them know of your support for the passage of these two ordinances. You may reach the Mayor and all council members by sending your message to council@capecoral.net.

If you have any questions concerning this request, please contact CRA Executive Director John Jacobsen at 239-549-5615.


There will be a primary run off for the position of Mayor and the council seat for District 6 to bring the field down to 2 in each, at the November election. It is VERY IMPORTANT that you vote in the primary, Sept 15th. If you will be out of town I have posted instructions to Vote by Mail in the previous post.

Mayoral candidates;


District 6