By Mary Hladky
Moving at lightning speed, the City Council unanimously accepted the donation of the 167-acre Boca Golf and Tennis Country Club to the city just eight days after the gift was announced.
Council members brushed aside pleas from country club neighbors at their Oct. 14 meeting to postpone the vote.
Speakers complained they were never consulted or even told that the new owners of the Boca Raton Resort & Club were offering the country club to the city, and voiced concerns about increases in traffic, possible decreases in their property values and whether the city had done adequate due diligence.
Many asked, “What’s the rush?”
But council members said the deal was simply too good to pass up.
“I think this is a slam dunk for the city,” said council member Andy Thomson.
Other cities would “salivate” over such a donation, said Mayor Scott Singer, who described it as “the most generous donation” ever made to the city. Answering residents' questions about the quick vote, City Manager Leif Ahnell said, “The donation is available now. … I am not under the impression it is available at a later date. This would be a fantastic opportunity.”
City officials expect to break even on operating the golf course, or possibly make a small profit.
Residents’ concerns can be addressed before the city takes over operation of the country club, council members said. The Boca Raton Resort & Club will continue operating the country club through Sept. 30, 2021.
MSD Partners, formed by billionaire Michael S. Dell, and Northview Hotel Group, acquired the country club as part of their purchase of the resort for $875 million in 2019. In announcing the donation, the owners said they want to concentrate on an ongoing massive, $150 million renovation of the resort. They said the country club had been underutilized for over a decade.
The country club is located outside the city limits on Congress Avenue north of Clint Moore Road, about 7 miles from the resort. It includes an 18-hole championship golf course, tennis courts, clubhouse and pool.