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Junior golf association expresses interest in old golf course acreage

By Staff | May 25, 2018

New developments in the purchase of the old Cape Coral Golf Club acreage by the city of Cape Coral could involve some help from private entities.

A letter of intent was sent to Cape Coral City Council members from the Southwest Florida Junior Golf Association in regards to purchasing and developing a portion of the acreage when and if the city buys it.

The letter states that the SWFJGA is interested in the land “for the purpose of constructing and the operation of a state-of-the-art golf teaching and practice facility for Junior Golfers from around the state.”

“SWFJGA and others have and will continue to seek out and obtain investors both private and corporate to fully fund the project,” the letter continued.

The prospective transaction price is to be determined.

City spokesperson Connie Barron said the SWFJGA’s involvement with the project is “yet to be determined.”

“We are continuing to develop terms to purchase the land (from its current owner) that then have to be approved by City Council,” she said.

Though this letter of intent may be a positive step towards purchase, it does not mean the city will be more likely to buy, Barron said, adding they are still working on negotiations.

“We’re still working on language of agreement and environmental aspects of the land. We need to figure out what needs to be done to meet environmental standards.”

A $12 million price tag was put on the site by Ryan Companies, owner of the 175-acre property. As originally tendered, the purchase price would include environmental mitigation, if required.

The former golf course acreage has been appraised for $10.15 million as-is by Maxwell, Hendry Simmons Real Estate Appraisals.

Appraisals for single-family residential use jump to $13.14 million, and $17.74 million for mixed-use development.

The property is currently zoned for residential development, a use which has now twice been denied by Cape City Council.

City Manager John Szerlag was given council approval to negotiate with Ryan Companies in February.

How the site would be developed, and what partnerships might be tendered if it comes into public ownership, remain to the seen, according to one city official.

Councilmember John Carioscia said he’ll get on board when the money is there, “Like any other proposal, we ask what money comes with it.”

He said he’s hoping to bring in professional park planners for the job.

“It’s a gem,” Carioscia said of the land, “Once we have money invested, then all the ideas come forward. Whoever wants to be part of this, bring your money and then we’ll talk.”

He said the city is doing what it needs to do to protect the taxpayer and that the land needs to be used for something that can be utilized by all residents of Cape Coral.

The SWFJGA has project objectives in mind if the city buys the site and it then is successful in purchasing a portion.

“To create a target destination and home for Junior Golfers, to build a Premier Golf Teaching and Practice Facility, to build an exceptional 7-hole golf course, to build a 12-bay driving range and to build a lighted short-game practice facility,” the letter states.

The non-profit’s 7-hole format is its “design of choice” with the ability “to offer juniors, beginners and families the ideal opportunity to experience golf in an inviting environment.”

The letter of intent also offered some fundraising opportunities.

“We will incorporate as a non-profit foundation separate from SWFJGA, Inc. This will enable us to seek funding while protecting the ongoing efforts of SWFJGA. The separation will ensure that funds are not commingled.”

The letter continued “The new non-profit foundation will solicit support in a variety of ways. Among them will be: Investors prepared to underwrite a portion of the project, investors prepared to seed a public bond effort, an architect ready to design at a reduced fee, a building and gold course fund, sell building naming opportunity, sell each golf hole naming opportunity” and more.

The letter ends with a layout of three phases to complete the buildout of property.

“Phase 1: Golf course, driving range, maintenance barn and hitting bays ($5.6 mil), Phase 2: Teaching and meeting facility($2.5 mil), Phase 3: Banquet facilities.

Currently, the city’s $60 million “Parks Master Plan” that was approved at the end of 2016 is being looked over to see if the incorporation of the old golf course is feasible.

The Parks Master Plan stakeholders met for the first time in over a year Thursday and discussed the potential addition.

“They are aware of the letter,” Barron added.

The Parks Master Plan group was formed to identify needs and deficiencies in the Parks and Recreation Department and what areas of the city are most lacking in parks and recreation amenities.

“We are lacking in many different parks and rec facilities for a city of our size,” said Barron.

SWFJGA could not be reached for comment.