- Lulu Ramadan Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
A Boca Raton taxing district has city support for buying a dilapidated golf course for $24 million, with plans to revitalize and re-brand it as “Boca National Golf Club.”
Talk of the Greater Boca Raton Beach and Park District — a taxing body independent of the city of Boca Raton — buying Ocean Breeze Golf Club, a 27-hole course near the Boca Teeca condominiums in the city’s north end, has been ongoing for nearly a year.
But the district made progress Tuesday with a nod from the Boca Raton city council.
The Greater Boca Raton Beach and Park District, which owns and operates several parks in the city and its suburbs, shared plans to buy the 214-acre golf course, country club and hotel.
It will be renamed the “Boca National Golf Club,” and become a “public golf course with a private club atmosphere,” said Arthur Koski, the district’s attorney.
The golf course was initially valued at no more than $10 million, the district reported in May. But new information about development restrictions at the golf course increased that appraised value to $22.7 million, Koski said .
About 29 acres of Ocean Breeze, owned by a Wells Fargo subsidiary under contract with developer Lennar Corp., is developable, which increased its value in the most recent appraisal, Koski said.
“We don’t want the development,” said Madeline Cuevas, who lives in the adjacent Boca Teeca neighborhood. “We’d like to keep the golf course.”
Even equipped with the lower appraisal, the district planned to shell out $24 million offer, describing the deal as a “take-it-or-leave-it” offer.
Several residents have criticized the deal in the past because of the $24 million price tag.
Many other residents voiced support of the deal Tuesday however.
“It’s been a long haul, but it definitely is worth it,” said Doug Coller, who also lives in Boca Teeca.
The deal relies on the city of Boca Raton to take out a loan on behalf of the beach and park district. The city council unanimously voiced support of the plan Tuesday.
“The beach and park district is paying a pretty penny for this,” Councilman Scott Singer said. “Please make it a pretty course.”
Several details still must be ironed out before the deal is signed, district officials said. The district will hire consultants to determine the best uses for the hotel and golf club, for example.
There is discussion of leasing part of Ocean Breeze to a private company, which would open a golf academy at the site.
Greg Norman, a company founded by the eponymous professional golfer, shared interest in building an academy at Ocean Breeze last year.
The project, officials have said, will ultimately cost the district more than $24 million, including:
Up to $14 million to renovate the now-closed course, Koski said.
About $500,000 per year to maintain the course, according to a district study.
About $2.5 million to rebuild the clubhouse, the first floor of which may become a pro-shop while the second floor could be a cafe or restaurant, Koski has said in the past.
The district projects the golf club will make about $2.5 million a year.
Said Koski: “This can be a very profitable venture.”