Amateurish, Incompetent…Wasting Time, Losing Money…It’s Time to Go!!!

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If you have been following the antics of our City Council on the ‘Potential Sale of Municipal Golf Course West’ over the last 12 months, you may have to come to the conclusion that the City Council must be auditioning for the role of “The Gang That Could Not Shoot Straight.”

What started out as an unsolicited offer for the purchase and sale of the municipal golf course quickly grew into a process that has been nothing short of comical but, as of last week, costly; $8 million costly to the residents and taxpayers of Boca Raton.

So how did we get to the point where a $73 million dollar offer is accepted at $65 million dollar; an $8 million dollar haircut.  Well in an attempt to answer that question, a chronological look back is required….

Let’s start on Monday November 21, 2016.

On this day, Deputy Mayor George Brown presented the Council with a detailed analysis of the two (2) remaining entrants out of the original field of nine (9); to wit:  GL Homes and Lennar Homes.  Their offers were the result of a process that requested the ‘highest and best offer’ to be presented by a date certain.  It was not the result of a more traditional and predictable process known as a RFP, Request for Proposal. Council Members all came to agreement that these two entrants were to be invited by the Mayor to keep their offers open and engage in further discussion with Staff to this transition to a final selection.  Remember this was November, 2016, 11 months ago.

Well the Council’s agreement did not last long….The very next day, Tuesday, November 22 at the regular meeting of the City Council, Council Member Weinroth,  reacting to a full chamber of residents, asked that the field of two (2) finalist be expanded to include a third (3) entrant; the Compson Group.  Councilman Weinroth engaged the other Councilmembers, Councilwoman O’Rourke excluded as she was not elected until months later, and all reluctantly agreed to allow the expansion and a complication to the process.

Fast Forward to City Council meeting, January 23, 2017…Deputy City Manager Brown briefs the Council on the status of the negotiations; on the complication concerning Lennar’s offer which originally had a land swap element for the Ocean Breeze property; and the evolving interaction with the Beach and Park District to interact as a purchaser of the Ocean Breeze property independent of the sale of the muni golf course. No action could be taken as details comparing all the offers were missing.  Mr. Brown recommended postponement pending further response for the entrants and the Beach and Park District.

Next up is the City Council meeting of Tuesday, February 28, 2017…Council Member Rodgers, who has certainly been the most proactive in wanting to move the sale forward and the Ocean Breeze deal to conclusion, asked that the proposals be brought forward at the next meeting as an action item.

Fast forward again to Council Workshop of March 27, 2017 where the then Deputy Mayor Mike Mullaugh requested that the proposed sale be brought forward for selection at the March 28th Council meeting. Here again, Council Member Rodgers encouraged moving forward….Mayor Haynie agreed to have the item set for discussion while Council Member Singer encouraged patience; an exercise that ultimately now results in a 19% loss to Boca Raton taxpayers.  On March 28, 2017, the Compson Development group voiced objection to this quick process.  Mr. Compson requested a postponement of any decision.  This request was honored by the City Council; more delay.

Moving on to Tuesday, April 18, 2017… Councilwoman O’Rourke now taking her place on the Council the topic was again raised.  Councilwoman O’Rourke asked about the status of the sale and the Manager responded that staff was awaiting direction from the Council.  Ms. O’Rourke asked that the Council then provide staff with whatever direction needed to move this process forward.  Ms. O’Rourke also raised the question as to what plans were in place regards the proceeds of the sale; to wit: $73 million dollars.  Now, Deputy Mayor Rodgers also raised the point of timing of this sale and expressing his interest in the use of proceeds as well as the delay in the process.

Looking further, to Monday, May 22, 2017, post goal setting….the issue is again raised by Council Member O’Rourke for the timelines that were addressed at goal setting and again raising question as to the delay in completing this sale.  Her concern was again voiced on August 21 at the City Council workshop.  Very little further happened until this week when the City Council finally made a decision, a decision with a sale price far less than what was previously available to them and the taxpayers of Boca Raton; a direct result of these many self imposed delays.

Why did this happen…It started with the Lennar offer which, at the beginning, had the complication of a land swap for the Ocean Breeze property.  The sale attracted 9 entrants quickly reduced to two.  Further delay occurred when Councilman Weinroth argued for the expansion of the entrants to 3.  Staff than spent time comparing the contacts.  The GL Homes offer was originally set at $73 million from day one.  They have not ever deviated from that.  The Lennar offer with the land swap was valued in the range of 51 million and the Compson offer was originally far below the $73 million.  All eventually raised their offers to meet the GL offer of $73 million.  However, only GL argued that their offer was without contingencies and had a $5 million dollar non-refundable deposit included.

It was not until this past Tuesday, October 24, 2017 and after the Compson Group withdraws from the competition was the council able to move forward with a decision.  As was the case as far back as November 2016, the GL Homes’ offer was so far superior to the Lennar offer that finally, finally the council made the obvious and right decision.  However, due to the lengthy delay, GL Homes went back and re-examined their 73 million offer dropping it to $60 million.  After discussion and some weak argument by Council Members, GL raised its offer to $65 million and drew the proverbially line in the sand.

So, the end result as of now and pending the council changing its mind again, is that at the next city council meeting, an ordinance will be brought forward to allow this deal proceed to completion.  Some council members have indicated disappointment with the terms; to wit:  $65 million with a $2 million dollar non-refundable deposit down from a $73 million dollar and a $5 million dollar non-refundable deposit.

After all the delays starting with the inclusion of the Compson Group, the council’s choice is to accept this lower offer or withdraw the offer to sell the property.

We shall see what their final decision is but no matter….’the gang that could not shoot straight’ is on the horns of a dilemma…Sell the property at the discounted price or not sell it at all….

Incredible incompetence….

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Alfred Zucaro has resided in Palm Beach County since 1982 and has been a resident of Boca Raton since 2008. A graduate of Fordham University, he holds a Magna Cum Laude degree in Economics. Mr. Zucaro attended Nova University receiving a Juris Doctorate Law Degree in 1986. He is a member in good standing with the Florida Bar, practicing in the area of Immigration Law for the majority of his career. Currently he is manager/member of Palm Beach Investment and Finance LLC, a USCIS approved regional center identifying foreign investment leading to permanent resident status. Mr. Zucaro served as a City Commissioner in West Palm Beach from 1995 to 2002 and as the President of the City Commission in 2000/2001. He has also been a member of and/or served on the Economic Council, the Business Development Board, the Film and Television Commission, the Tourist Development Council, the Workforce Alliance and the Palm Beach International Film Festival. Of particular interest is his founding of the World Trade Center Palm Beach, an organization that focuses on international economic development. Married to Yvonne Boice, they are avid world travelers having visited 6 continents and dozens of countries since their 2008 nuptials.

14 COMMENTS

  1. No need to sell it at all! We don’t need the money, undeveloped open space is a Precious asset, and,as is often said, “They ain’t making any more of it.” I vote that we simply keep it as is..

  2. Guaranteed there will be more “reductions”, if this deal closes, as the development process moves along. Developer DNA. This council is nuts to sell this property.

  3. I agree with Joe. Leave it as is. The last thing this area needs is more houses and traffic!
    Create a park. Keep open space for future generations.

  4. Would be great if city council disclosed what the money would be used for, or at least restrict proceeds for preserving green space within the city

  5. Don’t sell it at all. The course is beautiful and nothing is wrong with it. Just because it doesn’t turn a big profit does not mean it is not valuable to the residents. And of course, there are residents that want Ocean Breeze developed – the ones that live along it! They let it go bankrupt and into disrepair once so let’s use taxpayer money fix it up, increase their property value, all with a course that will never be able to be as nice as the current Municipal Course. Over development….’let’s keep it coming’ is the motto of our City Council.

  6. Negotiating incompetence at best IMO. The only commercial solution would be to open the competition to a national RFP process. Also, do not limit bidders to residential development only. See whether there ia a more valuable use of the property proposed by bidders which would translate into a higher purchase price received by the City. Why rush now? Only amateurs set deadlines for themselves.

  7. I agree with the comments above. The Glades Road golf site is a wonderful piece of property. It should remain untouched for future generations to enjoy. The last thing Boca needs is more congestion on Glades Road and more pricey homes and condos. It would be a crime to let this treasure be ruined by developers.

    • There were a couple of factors that lowered the price
      A covenet on the land imposed by the city and residents when it was developed a 300 ft buffer boarder the golf course and the adjoining the existing developed property a loss of acreages
      The communication tower which the city was not included that parcel has to be as big as the tower diameter is tall another large piece
      Finel determination was that the golf course was not as many acres as suggested less homes less money
      On the land there is a section of wet land that is protected again less acreage
      In the beginning GL Homes did not do anough research on the property their mistake but would have been our gain the city waited to long and choaked didn’t pull the trigger they wanted MORE money and lost $8 million dollars and a better contract

      • Harold, thank you for the reply. It is very insightful. Is english your second language? It was difficult to understand your intent with such poor grammar.

  8. The golf course needs to be sold, it loses money annually, its not in the City and no one from the City uses it. The City has committed to buy Ocean Breeze which is IN the City and needs to be refurbished. That will increase property values in Boca Teeca. Is the City really going to leave the western course open to compete with Ocean Breeze so that it too loses money–after burdening the city with the taxes to purchase it. I think not! That would be the worst of all worlds. The cell tower income which the City will retain and the NOT having the losses at the western course brings more than makes up for the reduced sales price. All the taxpayers of the City not the “Save our Homes” commenters above need to be taken into consideration.

  9. This in the beginning was the smartest decision and turned out to be the worst nagoatatios i have ever seen. The city from the beginning had the best deal they could ask for from GL Homes $73 Million and no contingencies and they should have acted on it but some council members thought they could get more money. GREED and look what happened, they lost $8 Million in the process and to hold on to land that doesn’t even belong in the city for green space for who, and hope that in the future they could get more money for the land – lots of luck! The city council waited 10+ years and lost lots of money just to get to a place were you could sell the property and break out even . Everyone in business knows that he who hesitates is lost and when you have a fish on the hook, reel it in. You waited too long to act on a true gift to the taxpayers of this city to dump a money pit losing entity loosing over $350 thousand dollars a year and not even considering all the money to upgrade it in hopes of it turning a profit on break even the waste of yours and my hard earned tax money . The incompetency of this council is shocking. The circus is in town and we need to change it.

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