Posted Under: Ft Lauderdale Parks and Green Spaces,Important Issues for Fort Lauderdale,Neighborhood Issues
As many of you know, the 200+ acre area that encompasses the Coral Ridge Country Club and the old American Golf course (the area roughly between Federal Highway and Bay View, & north of Oakland Park and south of Commercial) was sold a few years back to some private developers & investors for approximately $17M. A pretty good deal for a piece of property in the City that large!
Apparently, it was the intention of these investors/developers to buy the property (zoned for green space, or golf course & park), and then convince the local City and County Governments here to change the zoning so that residential and commercial development could have taken place. Doing so would have changed the property value from $17M to well over $200M, and would have netted a nice fat profit for the folks who bought the parcels.
However, the residents around the properties last year took action and convinced County Government to keep the zoning as is. Since then, the investors have been sitting on the property and areas have stagnated. The Pro Shop on the public Golf Course was gutted by fire. The developers (I have been told) have still made money on the property since they bought it, having received upwards of $8-9 million from a FEMA grant for damage that hurricane Wilma did. (If someone can verify the accuracy of this, I would appreciate hearing from you…). This is taxpayer money these developers have received; have they improved the property?
I haven’t seen improvements yet, have you? So here is a huge piece of property that’s just sitting there, with the developers apparently pocketing half of their original investement, compliments of us, the taxpayers. What have they used that money for?
I feel that our leaders in Broward County and in the City of Fort Lauderdale should approach the developers/investors and offer to purchase the property from them, and turn it into a “People’s Park” for us, the residents of Fort Lauderdale.
I feel a reasonable price to buy the property should be about $10M. The $10M we’d offer them plus the $8-9M they got from the FEMA grant will still be more than they paid for the property, and in this economic environment any return at all is better than the norm. (FYI: the City can also use a carrot and stick apporach if the investors did not want to sell. Property taxes on those properties could be adjusted upwards, making it more attractive for the current owners to sell to the City.)
And we have the financial ability to purchase this property, with the savings we could achieve by reductions in other areas of our swollen budget (go to www.abetterftlauderdale.com). I’ve already suggested savings of over $150M in a recent post on that site.
Purchasing this last large green space in the City would be a great way for our leaders to show that they care about the residents of Fort Lauderdale. Once purchased, this property could be turned into a true gem of a park. For those of you who have visited New York or San Francisco, you’ve seen the value that these tourist cities place on having a large public park for their residents and tourists. These places become destinations unto themselves, places people flock to. Our City has an opportunity now to obtain a similar park; we will never have this opportunity again.
So what do you think? Post a comment here, or contact your Mayor and/or Commissioner and ask them to act!