Golf demand peaked in 2001 and has been steadily declining ever since. In particular, the demand for full golf memberships in master-planned communities has declined by 50 percent. Owners of many courses cannot operate them profitably. Such golf course owners should consider the alternative of redeveloping their golf courses to other uses.
Alternatives for Redevelopment of Golf Courses
Examples of alternatives for redeveloping golf courses include:
- Single-family and/or multi-family residential development.
- Mixed-use development (any combination of residential/commercial/retail).
- Lots for merchant builders.
- Conservation easement or donation to local government for tax incentives.
- Sale to local government to create park land.
- Combination of conservation easement for tax purposes and residential/mixed-use development.
Many stand-alone golf courses were built approximately ten years ago and are now directly in the path of development. Therefore, for many of these sites, most or all of the necessary infrastructure is already in place. In addition, because of the golf course use of the property, there may be few, if any, environmental issues.
Much work is required to create a redevelopment plan and obtain necessary appraisals.
- Work with land planners, legal counsel and feasibility consultants to consider redevelopment strategies and options and determine governmental approvals required for new development plan.
- Review title to determine if property use restrictions exist.
- Review current zoning and land use categories.
- Review existing development agreements and land use approvals.
- Review environmental permits and other regulatory approvals.
- Review environmental site assessment to confirm that no environmental issues exist on the property.
- Work with the brokerage community to identify prospective purchasers and development plans to fulfill market.
- Preparation and submit the requisite redevelopment applications to regulatory agencies and local government.
- Develop public relations strategy to gain community support for the redevelopment.
- Support application and persuade applicable governmental bodies to approve plan.
- Present the redevelopment plan before local governments.
As an example, in 2002-2003, a Miami-Dade County golf course owner wished to “decommission” an operating, 150 acre golf course that was substantially underperforming economically. The owner wanted to change the county’s master plan and zoning for the site to allow over 700 residential units on the property. Not surprisingly, surrounding and nearby neighbors rallied against the conversion, citing concerns over the loss of view, increased traffic and other alleged impacts. The neighbors initially prevailed and the requests were denied. The owner closed the golf course and immediately reapplied for the change in use, but this time for an additional 300 units. Negotiations with the coalition, post-closure, resulted in unanimous approval of the application, but for 125 more units than initially requested. Thus, instead of the owner receiving approval for 700 units on the site, the project was approved for 825 residential units.
Decommissioning is complex, requiring time and patience, but it can be worth it.©2013 Greenberg Traurig, LLP. All rights reserved.