NEW: Boca to sell golf course to developer GL Homes for $65 million

Nov 14, 2017
Morgan Pressel chips the ball onto the green at the 16th hole of the Boca Municipal Golf Course during a match in 2005. (Photo by J. Gwendolynne Berry/The Palm Beach Post)

Boca Raton will part with its 190-acre public golf course west of city limits for $65 million, city leaders decided Tuesday.

The buyer? Sunrise-based developer GL Homes, which has built single-family homes throughout central and southern Palm Beach County.

With little discussion Tuesday — over a year after the land sale was first discussed — a majority of the city council members approved the sale. Only Deputy Mayor Jeremy Rodgers dissented.

“There’s more flexibility in the land than the money … I’d like to know a compelling reason to act,” Rodgers said. “I’m not seeing one.”

His colleagues, however, were inclined to end a drawn-out process, and collect millions that they said would eventually be invested in the city.

“I think we have been at this for a long time,” Councilman Robert Weinroth said, adding that the city was getting “top dollar” for the golf course, off Glades Road just west of Florida’s Turnpike.

“We’re very happy that this process has ended,” said Neil Schiller, an attorney for GL Homes. They can now start assessing the property and planning future development, he said.

The golf course will stay open for “several months if not a year” pending the land deal’s closing, which must happen by June 2019, said Deputy City Manager George Brown.

City leaders haven’t decided yet how they’ll spend the $65 million. Some ideas were floated Tuesday: A community center, city government complex and added greenspace.

Unsolicited bids for the western golf course first rolled in over a year ago. The city narrowed the list down to two potential buyers: GL Homes and Miami-based Lennar Corp.

Because the golf course was owned by the city, the bidding war between GL Homes and Lennar was conducted publicly in late October.

GL Homes’ overall bid of $65 million was less than that offered by Lennar, $73 million. But Lennar’s contract included inestimable expenses to the city.

The city council eventually agreed to sell to GL Homes.

The golf course is prime real estate for developers, experts say. Building on open greens is relatively easy, and property values in south-central Palm Beach County are climbing.

While the land is owned by Boca Raton, it falls outside the city’s boundaries, meaning any development at the site would require permission from the Palm Beach County Commission.

It isn’t clear yet how many homes GL Homes aims to build. They originally proposed more than 500.

Because the land is off a high-traffic thoroughfare, the County Commission will likely charge GL Homes millions to alleviate traffic, Schiller said.

Rodgers mentioned traffic woes, but was brushed off by fellow council members.

“That’s not our problem,” Weinroth said. “That’s the problem of the Board of County Commissioners.”