Tuesday, August 25, 2009

City, CRA seek to revive negotiations on The Golf Course

Trust for Public Lands no longer to play part

By GRAY ROHRER, grohrer@breezenewspapers.com

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.