The club’s owners say the course is no longer profitable and the city looks to develop the land into a single-family home subdivision. A deed restriction to maintain the property as a golf course that expires in 2023 could slow down the development process, unless it is overturned by the owners.
The owners of Casselberry (Fla.) Golf Club are considering selling the property to a developer, explaining to city officials that it is no longer profitable, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
“We’re losing money, and it seems to be getting worse,” said Bob Dello Russo of The Golf Group, which purchased the property in 2003. “But we’re not selling until we come up with a plan with the city.”
Casselberry was built in 1947 and winds through five neighborhoods just east of City Hall, Orlando Sentinel reported.
“It’s a beautiful green space that most cities don’t have,” Casselberry Commissioner Sandra Solomon said. “But golf courses all over the country and many here in Florida are having a tough time financially. So it didn’t surprise me that they are interested in selling.”
Despite neighbors’ love of the property, golf courses all over have faced challenges and Casselberry is no exception. Within 30 miles of Casselberry, there are 85 competing public and private courses, Orlando Sentinel reported.
“There has been an unprecedented expansion of golf course inventory in the past few decades,” said Gene Krekorian, a Commercial Recreation Consultant in Hermosa Beach, Calif. “But participation and the demand for golf has declined.”
Last week, DeLand Country Club’s golf course in west Volusia closed and in 2006, Twin Rivers Golf Club in Oviedo, Winter Springs Golf Club and Sabal Point Country Club in Longwood went into foreclosure.
City officials said they are unlikely to purchase Casselberry, because that would require the club to receive voter approval to borrow millions of dollars to fund the purchase, which would result in higher property taxes, Orlando Sentinel reported.
“We just don’t think that would work,” Casselberry City Manager Randy Newlon said. “We don’t expect it to ever make money.”
Instead, the city looks to develop the property. A well-planned subdivision of single-family homes would draw more in property tax revenue for Casselberry than the current golf club, city officials said. The city receives about $2,000 a year in tax revenue from the golf course, Orlando Sentinel reported.
However, a 1973 deed restriction creates a hurdle. It says that if the course ever becomes “economically unfeasible,” then the “owner shall convey the property, free of charge,” to the city and the city “shall maintain the…property as a golf course” or conservation area. The restriction is set to expire in 2023, Orlando Sentinel reported.
City attorney Catherine Reischmann said the property owners would have to overturn the restriction to move forward.
“They would have to overcome the legal impediments,” she said. “But there have been a number of golf course conversions [to development] around the nation.”
Lillian Casselberry, daughter of Hibbard Casselberry, who founded the city and donated most of the land for the golf course, said a well-planned development “could be great for the city” because of the tax benefits, Orlando Sentinel reported.
“This is going to be a prime piece of property,” Casselberry said. “But we need to make sure that any development has plenty of open space.”jobs