Belleair Commission is expected to make a decision on the fate of the Belleview Biltmore Golf Club on Indian Rocks Road in the near future.
BELLEAIR – The fate of the Belleview Biltmore Golf Course should be known before the end of the year. In an update to the Belleair Commission on Tuesday, Oct. 15, Town Manager Micah Maxwell said he is just about ready to invite interested parties to negotiate the sale or lease of the facility.
The town owns the golf course; it was purchased in February from the Ades brothers of Miami for $3.5 million. The sale came about because the brothers were looking for a way to get out from under more than $250,000 in fines levied because of the deteriorating state of the Belleview Biltmore Hotel.
As long as the fines were in place they couldn’t sell the golf course or the Cabana beach property, which they also owned on Sand Key. The town suggested the deal as a way of getting something tangible after the Ades brothers threatened foreclosure on their own mortgage, which would have taken the fines and the resulting lien off the books.
Maxwell told the commission the documents that constituted the invitation to negotiate the sale or lease of the property are just about ready to be put out on the street.
Commissioner Stephen Fowler asked that Maxwell not move too quickly because he understood that potential buyers of the hotel might want to also purchase the golf course to go with it.
Maxwell said Miami architect Richard Heisenbottle is the likely potential buyer involved in the discussion.
“My understanding is that he has had some discussions with the brothers, but to my knowledge he does not have an agreement to purchase yet,” he said. “In the next couple of weeks we’ll find out if he can do it or not.”
Maxwell said the invitation to discuss the future of the golf course with potential buyers or investors is a complicated one.
“The lease/sale option is number one on our preferred list,” he said. “Number two would be to hire a manager or firm to run it for us on a long term lease basis, and number three would be to have a town employee run the operation but that is a distant third on our preferred list, and I’m sure the commission feels the same way.”
Maxwell said the options involved in the discussion are what complicates the issue.
”Both those top two options are going to be out there, but I’m hopeful that once we select the people we want to talk to about what to do next then the length of those negotiations will determine how long it will be before the whole thing is settled.”
Maxwell said the invitation to negotiate will be publicized in the first week in November.
Commissioner Kevin Piccarreto said the process is the correct way to go.
“I definitely think we should put it out there for anybody to negotiate so we can make sure we get what the property is worth,” he said.
Which prompted Commissioner Fowler to ask what it is worth.
“Have we had a recent appraisal?” he asked.
Maxwell said the last appraisal on the property was done about a year ago and it was valued at $3.1 million.
The latest financial report shows the golf course is in the black by nearly $160,000 since the town purchased it in February. In September however the facility was $25,000 in the red.
“The worst months are June, July, August and September,” Maxwell said. “This year especially we had lots of rain and nobody golfs in the rain. It would have been exciting to see how the course would have fared without all the tremendous amount of rain.”
He also noted that the snowbirds are starting to come back so there will be more people playing golf regularly.
Mayor Gary Katica told the meeting that the golf course has been good for the town.
“It has exceeded expectations,” he said. “We all have to be happy with it.”
Maxwell agrees with him.
“It has been a good experience,” he said. “It would have been better without all the rain but either way it has been a positive experience.”
The golf course continues to be operated by Green Golf Partners, a company which operates golf courses all over the country. They have expressed an interest in talking to the town about taking over on a long-term basis.
The Belleair property has a new manager. Adam Stuck has been managing the Osprey Cove Golf Course in Georgia, another of Green Golf Partners properties. He replaces John Danehy who has been transferred to take over the Georgia facility.
Mowing contract awarded
The contract for mowing all the town’s parks has been awarded for the next year. Earth Design, which had the contract last year, won it again this year. Their bid of just over $32,000 was the lowest of those submitted.
The town decided to contract out its mowing work so town employees could concentrate on beautification and in fact the money represents a saving over what might have been spent by contracting out the beautification work.