Judge OKs Winter Garden's bid to help Stoneybrook West HOA buy bankrupt golf course
Wednesday, March 17, 2021
"We wanted to get the golf course in the hands of the property owners so they could control their own fate," said Winter Garden City Manager Mike Bollhoefer.
Updated 10:48 p.m.: VoxPopuli has learned there were two additional buyers, bidding for the golf course and offering $3 million for the property. "The judge ruled in favor of the city/HOA deal because it is what's best for the community," said Colin Sharman, District 4 city commissioner, who represents the neighborhood.
Judge Lori Vaughan of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Middle District of Florida, green-lighted a deal Tuesday for the city of Winter Garden to rescue the beleaguered golf course at Stoneybrook West.
The city will purchase the golf course, and then give the homeowners association a $2 million, 20-year, interest-free loan to take it over. Homeowners will repay the city through a special assessment.
“This goes on their property tax bills. It’s all guaranteed, so there’s no risk of losing our money,” Winter Garden City Manager Mike Bollhoefer told us Tuesday. “That loan will be attached to every property in that neighborhood, so if a homeowner sells, that new owner will pay the extra $85 a year. We get our money over 20 years, and they end up controlling their own fate.”
“Homeowners were not left with much of an option but to purchase it,” said homeowner Eric Martinez in an interview. “We were burned by the last [golf course] owners, and I don’t think anybody had the appetite to go through the space being closed down without being kept up.”
Now it’s up to Stoneybrook West homeowners to decide what to do with the property.
“The majority of the residents do not want a golf course there,” said Bollhoefer. “I don’t think it will ever be a golf course again. That golf course was losing over $1 million a year when it was operating. You just cannot make a public golf course work anymore, it’s just not going to happen.
“My recommendation is you turn it into a nice park system throughout the whole community,” he added. “That will stabilize property tax values and maybe make them go up which is good for them, but also good for us, for the tax revenue. Everybody wins if that happens.”