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.”