The On-Going Saga: Selling the Municipal Golf Course!

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FIASCO….the only word that can accurately describe the entire process that the City Council and staff have had residents endure in this now six (6) month saga.

Back in October 2016, the City received a number of unsolicited bids from interested parties who wanted to purchase the municipal golf course on Glades Road outside Boca Raton city limits.  With these, City staff, at direction from individual council members, brought forward a process to investigate such a sale.  From the beginning, the entire process has been mired in politics rather than determining what is in the best interests of the residents.

Let’s take an objective look at the evidence in support of that assertion.

To begin, any objective look at this process and the proposals ought come to the conclusion that, on the merits, one and only one offer may be in the best interests of the residents.

The GL Homes’ proposal has been from day one the ‘final, best and last’ offer made by them to the city.  GL Homes offered over 6 months ago a purchase price of $73 million with no contingencies outside of a 90 day due diligence period in a cash deal with non-refundable deposits and no reliance on the approval process from the County.  No other proposer came close to those business terms.

In November, city staff presented to the City Council the details of all the proposals and the city council reduced the proposers to two finalists for consideration; to wit: GL Homes and Lennar.

Leading up to that reduction, city staff outlined the processes available for the City Council to follow.  The choices were a traditional path of issuing a Request for Proposal (RFP) which would have given the City Council control of the bidding process or the less effective way of an ‘open’ structure where proposers were given a date certain to present their ‘final, best and last’ offer.

With the decision to use an ‘open’ process, the City Council set the stage for what can only be viewed as a political process rather than a ‘what’s in the best interest of the residents’ process.  To this day, we probably have not seen the ‘final, best, and last’ offers from some of the remaining proposers.

Only GL Homes has followed the rules.  They submitted their ‘final, best and last’ offer back in November and now, 6 months later, have not altered it in any way.  The Lennar and Compson ‘final, best and last’ offers have been changed in significant ways since that original deadline date and the City Council has been feckless in its demonstration of leadership by allowing this to have happened.

Starting the day after the ‘final, best and last’ offer deadline, the City Council allowed the Compson team back into the mix for consideration.  This clearly violated the spirit of the agreed upon process but politics was now controlling and politics dictated that undisciplined elected officials afraid to take a stand against a powerful constituent group violated their own rules for the first time in this process but not for the last time in this on-going saga.

The original ‘final, best and last offers’ by Compson and Lennar submitted in November were significantly inferior to the GL Home offer.  That was true then and remains true now.  It was only after Compson and Lennar had the opportunity to analyze the leading offer did their proposals change to now suggest an equivalency.   Even with the advantage of knowing the GL Homes deal points, any fair reading of the current ‘final, best and last’ contract terms still may conclude that the GL Homes deal is still superior on the merits than the revised Compson and Lennar deals.

The GL Homes proposal, then and now, remains without contingencies; is a $73 million dollar cash transaction with a closing date 90 days after selection; and has a $4 million dollar non-refundable cash deposit.  The others are not even close.

On Tuesday night, March 28th, the City Council again allowed politics to interfere with a fair application of the rules.

At the workshop on Monday, March 27th , an agenda item was added to the City Council’s agenda for the council to take up the sale of the municipal golf course for, by the Mayor’s own statement, a vote to pick the winning proposer regarding this sale.  The reasoning for this unannounced, un-noticed major item was to have Deputy Mayor Mullaugh be able to vote selecting the winning proposer before newly elected Councilwoman Andrea Levine O’Rourke assumed her place on the dais….How convenient!

Well this did not work out as planned….Another political twist took place.

In what can only be termed as a fiasco, the public may have gotten a rare glimpse of a suspected back room deal falling apart right in front of their eyes.

Deputy City Manager George Brown gave a 9 minute contract terms analysis to the City Council.  In this, he concludes at least twice that the GL Homes deal and the Lennar Deal are comparable in all respects and that the Compson deal is not comparable https://youtu.be/htRLRVlKDHE.

Mr. Brown’s analysis is later shown to be effectively wrong; a circumstance that then begs the question of how could he have been so wrong and how could this have been brought forward with the intent of selecting the winning proposer?  Deputy City Manager Brown, in response to Councilman Mullaugh’s inquiry, offers explanation for his incorrect analysis.…you, the reader, can judge for yourselves if his errant presentation was an oversight as suggested below or a factual presentation designed to mislead the Council and the public.

All three proposers were then given a 10 minute time slot to present their ‘final, best, and last’ offers.

Compson went first but did not have any significant comments to make.  They did however raise the important question as to the timing of this un-noticed agenda item on such an important item without the benefit of the public being involved.  What was brought out is that there have been some 1,000 emails to Council members in support of their proposal.  https://youtu.be/DtuUQ5HSsso

GL Homes went second….Their presentation was incredibly effective.  Through 2 corporate officials, they were able to establish with referenced citations the merits of their proposal and the deficiencies of Lennar’s proposal.  They identified five (5) items that make the Lennar proposal contingent on condition precedents; conditions precedents that Deputy Mayor Brown stated did not exist.  Their presentation was extremely compelling.  https://youtu.be/9qxShR73Y0I

Finally, Lennar Homes took the podium and, through its attorney, proceeded to call into question the GL Home presentation and, went further, to call into question the integrity and character of the GL Homes presenters and their corporate culture.  Lennar proceeded to state that the GL Homes presenters were disingenuous in their assertions that Lennar’s offer contains five (5) contractual contingencies; Lennar’s attorney denied that there were any contingencies; and accused GL Homes of a pattern of misinformation throughout the entire process. https://youtu.be/tkZdueRpttM

GL Homes responded to this character attack with class and dignity demonstrating that the attorney for Lennar overlooked clauses within its own contract that, in fact, were contingencies. Further questioning by council members required the Lennar attorney to admit that, in fact, there were contingencies.  https://youtu.be/sDfqImDMjaQ

Lennar’s attack on GL Homes’ corporate character was uncalled for and should be viewed as unacceptable.  Lennar, throughout this process, has taken their ‘final, best, and last’ offer and changed it a number of times.  Lennar complained early in the process to the undisciplined manner in which Compson was allowed back into consideration but is silent now on its own actions to change their proposal to suit the circumstances that had evolved.

So back to the beginning….

On the merits, GL Homes, at this time and with all things remaining the same, ought be viewed as the standard bearer with the best proposal for the benefit of the residents.  GL Homes also should prevail on the issue of corporate character considering the unfounded and unnecessary character attack leveled at them by Lennar’s presenters. https://youtu.be/kkz7yi9f1qQ

On the process….Leopards do not change their spots….The City Council, by adding this item to the agenda for final decision without proper notice, tried, once again, to do an end run around the residents.  To move this major item forward with no notice and no opportunity for the public to participate is type of suspicious activity that we, the residents, thought may have changed.  Well, as already said, leopards never really change their spots. https://youtu.be/vJo1FWJ60AY

As to the City Staff…to have been so wrong on the contingency matters is simply unexplainable.  When confronted, Deputy City Manager Brown stated that staff did not do a line by line comparison and that his comment about no contingencies was only with regards to usual contract terms and not the specifics of these proposals. https://youtu.be/EA68mj012_o

REALLY?

Then why would this item have been brought forward for what the Mayor stated would be a final decision?  Again, the politics of this matter is front and center….It seems that the back room deal operators may have been at it again….Residents’ due diligence remains of utmost importance…

In this whole process, Councilman Rodgers stands head and shoulders above the rest of the field.  He has been pushing forward for public golf in Boca Raton from the beginning; he has been a staunch supporter of a disciplined process in the municipal golf course sale; and he is the only council member to state what ought be viewed as the obvious….The GL Homes deal, in his opinion, is in the best interests of Boca Raton residents.

Kudos to Councilman Rodgers!

One final note….Staff told the Council that it will need time to do the line by line comparison.  The Council, then, could not identify a ‘date certain’ to bring this back for further action….It would appear that there will be no further public hearing on this matter until after the May 8th scheduled joint meeting between the City Council and the Beach and Park District….It is suggested that between now and then, the ‘final, best and last’ offers of Lennar and Compson will, once again, change.

As stated before….FECKLESS leadership….undisciplined…and with the inmates apparently running the asylum….

P.S.  It is suggested that residents view the March 28th proceedings.

The entire video runs from 1:31:45 to 2:45:45….1 hour 14 minutes

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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.

18 COMMENTS

  1. Let’s not sell the one successful golf course owned by the City. Once that land goes to more housing, Boca will never get it back. Buy the other failing golf course and if it continues to fail in its operations, then its land will be just as valuable for more housing.

    • I fully agree with this comment, once gone, the area in general will become crowded, traffic increased tremendously and the value of the sorrounding properties will be affected. Boca West does not need any other monstruous housing development. Lets keep the golf course!!!

  2. Um, why does the course have to be sold? It’s a beautiful course, one where they could raise the rates and people would still play it. Why do homes have to be built on it? I realize that you have to look at things from the perspective of the city of Boca Raton but perhaps you are making a mistake. Because, we are interlinked here. Stupid decisions made by Boca Raton can impact anyone who lives, works, or drives through Boca. The same principal applies to the dumb decisions made by the PBC Commissioners. Don’t forget that you are also a resident of Palm Beach county. Both governments are out of control. We are gridlocked now and I see no road improvement, just more homes. So, don’t be a such a rush to sell that West Boca course. Homes are going to generate more traffic on Glades Road than the golf course and you be assured that PBC has no plans to address those issues. The end result is a dimished quality of life.

    • Traffic on Glades Rd. is a major issue that the city is ignoring in this selling process, but this should be the primary consideration in the bidding process for the sell of the current city golf course. There should be a maximum number of units and traffic trips from any new development on the current golf course property. Similar sized properties get approval for 1,000 units which would only worsen the traffic on Glades Rd. It is time that the city staff & city council take responsibility for the traffic gridlock on Glades Rd. & throughout our city.

  3. Who is the best person to contact regarding our view in support of GL Homes?

    Also, have they stated what kind of community they want to build? We are hopeful that it will be another wonderful Over 55 project.

    • Ocean Breeze is not being purchased by the city, since Lennar has made a verbal agreement to negotiate the sale of Ocean Breeze for $24 million to the Beach & Park District.

  4. I agree. Why sell it at all? Our city sits on literally gobs of cash – we don’t need the money at all. And what they say about land is true’ “they aren’t making any more of it”. So if land is the scarce resource and money is not, why sell at all?

  5. I agree…Why is this course being sold? Glades road is already so congested and the immediate neighbors in West Boca seem to be of little consideration. We, the residents of West Boca need green space more than we need more homes.

  6. I agree with all those who posted above. It seems that the quality of the golf course is not being considered at all in comparing these two courses. It seems that the Boca Teeca residents just want to maintain their green space at all costs including green space in the West Boca area. But the Boca Teeca course needs to be a profitable course and if they think that, by selling the other city-owned course, the Boca Teeca course will be automatically profitable, they should rethink that proposition.

    • There are 4-5 public golf courses west of the turnpike in Boca Raton which is outside of the city limits and there are no unlicensed championship level golf courses east of the turnpike inside the city limits. Makes perfect sense to sell the current golf course and acquire the Ocean Breeze property for improvement on par with Osprey Point.

  7. Are there any financial reports on the activity at the golf course? Has it been busy enough to keep it open, or has there been a declining attendance of golfers? Nationwide the interest in golf has been declining, is that happening here? Has the city done a study on the need to keep this golf course open? Has it been making enough money from the golfers fees or does the city have to subsidize it, in order to keep it open?

  8. I support the purchase of the Ocean Breeze Golf course. What is troubling to me is that the purchase has been delegated to the Parks District while at the same time the City is selling the Municipal Golf course in West Boca. Base on what I know (or have read) today, the District is going to over pay for Ocean Breeze and perhaps borrow the money to do that while the City will receive $70+million. What is the City going to do with that money? I doubt they will give it back to the taxpayers! This all made some sense when it was a golf course swap with cash to the city….It makes very little sense now. Based on past performance, particularly with the Wildflower property, I just don’t trust the City government with large amounts of money like this. Someone is pulling a fast one here.

    • Jim, I totally agree with you. We (Boca Residents) are overpaying for the golf course. I live in Boca Teeca and live here because I am an avid golfer (play every day!) but there is something amiss in this sale that needs to be investigated. I want the sale to go through, without Greg Norman! and benefit the middle class users of the club. Keep the purchase price down and allow for the blue collar worker of Boca to enjoy. WHO IS GETTING THE EXTRA 13 MILLION DOLLARS!!! Remember the end of November 2016 meeting when the price was 10 million dollars and the question was asked “the foreclose price was for 7.5 million why now ten million, and Lenar answered because we invested 2.5 million (where??) and wanted to become “whole again” Now the price to the County Parks and Recreation is 23 million?? whose pockets are being greased? We need the best price to keep costs down for the average citizen and residents of Boca Teeca

      • Bob,

        Wells Fargo had over $17 million due on their foreclosure of the property. Lennar is not required to sell the property at all, so their cooperation should be appreciated by residents who want affordable golf in East Boca. The $24 million per acre price tag is well below the $150k/acre the city paid for the DeHornle park land and below the approximately $1 million per acre paid for the Ocean Strand property by the Park District several years ago. Both the Ocean Strand and Wildflower properties have been vacant for years and generating zero revenue for he city, whereas, the acquisition & improvement of the Ocean Breeze property will generate several million in revenue annually. As a golfer and Boca Teeca resident you should be thanking Lennar and the Park District at every opportunity.

  9. I agree with almost everyone here. Our city has no shortage of capital. We certainly don’t need more housing out there. I would like to see if the course is currently profitable or not to determine whether it is costing the city money. Furthermore, I also would like to know if the property is sold, what would be the city’s plan for the use of those funds? If you’re taking away something from the residents, what are you giving them in return?

  10. The current municipal golf course should not be sold until there is another public golf course acquired by the city or park district. The park district should acquire the ocean breeze property and NOT be in the hotel business. The former hotel would be an excellent site for a park district facility similar the the sugar sand park building which has a theatre and several meeting rooms for residential or park district use.

  11. We understand that: WHEN MONEY TALKS, EVERYTHING WALKS., but, we as a west Boca Raton people for more than 20 years, will spect that the people a the Municipal officce, give another chance, that the city (west Boca) remains human.
    KEEP THE MUNICIPAL GOLF COURSE AT GLADES ROAD OPEN!!!
    Lots of poeple will be happy in many ways.

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