A proposal to turn a long-stagnant golf course into a residential community is causing concern among some neighbors.
A developer has an option to buy the former north course of Palm Beach Polo Golf and Country Club from Palm Beach Polo Inc., a company controlled by developer Glenn Straub, village officials confirmed. The property is north of Forest Hill Boulevard and west of Elbridge Gale Elementary School and the Palm Beach County library’s Wellington branch.
In a statement issued Monday to The Palm Beach Post, 13th Floor Homes said it has “entered into a preliminary agreement to acquire Polo North.
“Our team is in the early planning stages and while we have not yet finalized a site plan we do know with certainty that this will remain a residential project designed to enhance the surrounding community,” the company said. “We look forward to incorporating the community’s feedback into our vision as we share our plans with the city and neighboring residents in the coming months.”
An attorney for Palm Beach Polo did not return a request for comment Monday.
On Saturday, a 13th Floor Homes worker visited residents whose properties abut the nearly 60-acre former golf course to share information about the proposed project, dubbed Polo North Club, and an informational meeting at 7 p.m. Sept. 6 at the Wellington Community Center, 12150 Forest Hill Blvd.
That visit spurred Michelle Kaplan to canvass her neighbors. Kaplan, whose home on The 12th Fairway backs up to the northwest side of the property, printed flyers with information about the project and created a Facebook group, “12th Fairway Wellington,” to rally opposition.
“They’re gonna have to get ready for the fight of their lives,” Kaplan said in an email to The Post.
The plans shown to residents by 13th Floor Homes, photos of which were posted in Kaplan’s Facebook group, show about 70 single-family home lots and several dozen townhome units, along with open space and a recreational pod. The renderings include water and landscape buffers. A Forest Hill Boulevard entrance just west of the library would be right-in, right-out only.
The land has been vacant since the golf course was decommissioned nearly two decades ago. Palm Beach Polo Inc. has faced code violations through the years for allowing brush to become overgrown.
About 125 homes directly back up to the former north course, according to property appraiser’s records.
No formal application has been filed with Wellington, Planning, Zoning and Building Director Bob Basehart said. To move forward, the developer would have to request a comprehensive plan amendment to change the future land use from commercial recreation to residential, and a master plan amendment to change the property’s use from open space-golf course to residential.
13th Floor can submit the application without the landowner’s involvement as long as it has permission from Palm Beach Polo, Basehart said.
The north course was the subject of controversy in 2017 when Palm Beach Polo Inc. sought to include field and equestrian sports as approved uses at the course. The landowner also requested access points from Forest Hill Boulevard and to Royal Fern Drive, behind the library. Those requests failed to gain approval from the village council at its Dec. 11 meeting.
Other developers have courted Palm Beach Polo Inc. to build on the property through the years. In December, a tennis ranch was pitched for the site, but those plans fell through. Other proposals have included residential and commercial spaces, with one possibility featuring an assisted-living facility.
The community feedback strategy appears to be part of 13th Floor Homes’ approach when planning projects that adjoin residential communities. Company division president Michael Nunziata told The Post in December that redeveloping a golf course works best when nearby residents have a say.
“It’s a lot of leg work, a lot of community meetings,” Nunziata said at the time. “But by dealing with things on the front end, it helps make the project move forward.”