Boca National Saga Between City And District Continues Districts asks city to spend $20 million on construction costs

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By: Diane Emeott Korzen Contributing Writer

The city of Boca Raton has already financially helped the Greater Boca Raton Beach & Park District to reopen the former Ocean Breeze course by floating a bond to purchase the land.

Now, the District wants more money from the city to transform the closed course into Boca National.

The proposal involves a $20 million ask from the district to the city.

Commissioner/Treasurer Craig Ehrnst of the Greater Boca Raton Beach & Park District served as pitch man to Boca City Council, presenting scenarios for Boca National Golf Course with price tags attached at a recent workshop meeting.

The pitch, the city spend $20 million on construction costs and the district retain 55 percent ownership and the city 45 percent.

A deal was not made that night.

The city and the district have not agreed on much other than keeping golf in Boca. The city has plans to sell Boca Municipal, which is technically outside city limits, to GL Homes.

Since agreeing to keep golf in Boca by restoring the closed Ocean Breeze course, the two board have not always shared the same vision for the new course.

The city council feels the district overpaid for the property, which cost about $25 million. The district will repay the city for the bond.

Now, city council members feel the proposed $20 million plus plan presented by Price Fazio is way too much money.

Council members have called the plan a “champagne design on a beer budget.” They say the city needs a course for players of all levels and not something that is equivalent to a championship style course. The board said they would like the see the design paired down and tweaked.

“We need to have golf for the every day average person,” Councilman Andy Thomson said.

He recommended reaching out to speak with Winter Park, which has a city-owned, 9-hole course that is touted by golf professionals. He said the cost to create that course was less expensive than the current proposal.

“We aren’t trying to build Augusta National here,” Councilman Jeremy Rodgers said. “This needs to be a course for our residents.”

Mayor Scott Singer said he would be willing to be a partner to the district, but not at a price tag of $20 million.

“I’m still in for more than $1 and less than $28 million,” he said. “I want to help partner. However, when I asked for an ask from the District, I never thought I’d be asked for $20

million. I’m not comfortable partnering [to that level] today.”

Council members proposed taking over the project from the district entirely, but that was met with resistance. Part of the pitch is for the district to retain 55 percent ownership and the city 45 percent when it comes to sharing future profits and operating and maintaining the course.

Some council members feel if they are being asked to spend that amount of money, the city should take over the design and construction.

To scale back its ask, the district did remove a hotel that was considered in the plan. A clubhouse was also removed from the price ask to the city.The project can also be phased to help with the cost.

According to a phasing chart from the district:

Phase 1) –18-hole course (is itemized alone at $7,325,422) with added figures for: tree root pruning and watering of existing trees to be moved; landscaping; grow-in; maintenance facility; maintenance facility components and tools; golf course maintenance equipment; golf

course accessories; irrigation pump house; two on-course restrooms; and temporary clubhouse — at a Phase 1 subtotal of $13,783,825.

Phase 2) — Driving range and putting course (is itemized alone at $1,952,636) with added figures for: driving range and par 3 lighting; maintenance equipment and accessories; golf course accessories; par 3 course and grow-in; and teaching facility — at a Phase 2 subtotal of

$6,080,265.

Phase 3) – Clubhouse (is itemized alone at $3,481,744) with added figures for a halfway house including restrooms; and entry landscaping — at a Phase 3 subtotal of $4,071,744.

Phase 4) Tunnel construction (is itemized alone at $2,450,000). This is the only cost listed for Phase 4.

Total Cost for all phases of golf course construction is projected at $26,385,834.

Councilwoman Monica Mayotte said she is concerned that the district will not spend money on other projects in its pipeline if the city doesn’t help come up with money for the course.

The next time the topic may come up is on at 2 p.m. on July 22 at the city council’s workshop meeting.