Article Courtesy of The
Daytona Beach News-Journal
By Matt Bruce
Published December 3, 2019
City would increase developer’s footprint in exchange for 6-acre driving range
at Palm Harbor links
An Atlanta-based developer has plans to build 50 town houses on land surrounding
the clubhouse at the Palm Harbor Golf Course.
city-owned fairway represents Palm Coast’s only public links
and a group of residents fearing development on the grounds
is mounting an organized effort to preserve the golf course
“They want to take the golf course and they’re playing the
shell game,” said Lou Vitale, a leading member of Protect
The ad hoc community group is opposed to any development on
the 165-acre property upon which the golf course sits. The
group has circulated a petition that’s received over 400
signatures and Vitale said he wants to get at least 1,000.
“Our position is once you get 50 (town houses) in, you’re
going to want to re-zone the golf course for even more, take
the golf course away and make that a complete development
area,” he said.
However, city officials say their main interest in a
proposed land deal is acquiring the course’s driving range
to ensure the future golf operations at the facility.
“Once upon a time, the plans were to build apartments on the
driving range. So we’ve stopped that idea,” City spokesman
Michael Schottey said last week. “The opponents of the plan
have not realized that fact that we’re trying to stop those
from being built.”
The municipal Palm Harbor Golf Course in Palm Coast
is just one of several options available for golfers in Flagler
Palm Harbor Golf Course, 20 Palm Harbor Dr., anchors the south end of Palm
Coast’s C-section. Jacoby Development Inc., or JDI, owns 16-acres of property
along Cooper Lane, which includes the driving range adjacent to the main
clubhouse. Palm Coast currently leases the driving range, which represents one
of the key draws for golfers, according to city officials.
“Driving ranges are important to golf courses,” said Jason DeLorenzo, Palm
Coast’s chief development officer. “Golf courses without driving ranges are
significantly less successful. That’s what we’re trying to solve here. Right
now, the developer could come in and put buildings up on the driving range.”
JDI began working with city officials this summer on a plan to build five
three-story condominiums with a total of 120 units on land parcels north and
west of the clubhouse. But the developer changed courses after presenting those
original plans to residents during an Oct. 24 community meeting in October.
DeLorenzo said the developers submitted a new plan to the city Nov. 18, aiming
to build a maximum of 50 town houses on the property surrounding the clubhouse.
JDI hopes to present that plan to Palm Coast’s planning board for initial
approval at its Dec. 18 meeting.
The golf course is designated as “greenbelt” on the city’s land use map, a
classification that permits low-density residential development. DeLorenzo
explained that the owners currently have rights to develop 16 units on the land,
according to land-use regulations. In exchange for increasing the developer’s
allowed density, JDI would hand the driving range over to the city, according to
a proposed agreement.
“The trade for the driving range, we’re giving them some development rights,”
DeLorenzo said. “There has to be equity because we’re gaining about six acres in
this deal. Even more than the land itself, we’re getting the driving range into
city property and making sure that in the future, we can protect the golf
operations there by having a viable driving range.”
ITT built the Palm Harbor Golf Course in 1973 and eventually sold it off. Centex
Homes, a Dallas-based resort development company, purchased the course in 2005
with plans of renovating it and building a multimillion dollar resort around the
links. That same year, Palm Coast adopted the original planned unit development,
or PUD, on the property. The development agreement served as a multi-use zoning
designation, which licensed Centex to build 16 multi-story condominiums totaling
161 living units all around the course. Nine of the condos were planned to be
built on the driving range.
But the Great Recession dashed those plans and Centex donated the golf course to
Palm Coast in 2007, records show. The city paid to redesign and renovate the
course before reopening it in 2009 under Kemper management.
Centex maintained ownership of the driving range and the city agreed to lease
it. Centex sold the 16-acre property to Jacoby Development in December 2016 for
$5.5M, according to the Flagler County Property Appraiser’s office.
Now JDI is asking Palm Coast officials to renew the expired development
agreement. Meanwhile the city plans to re-zone the entire golf course from a PUD
to a “master-planned development,” or MPD.
When Palm Coast officials okayed the original Centex PUD in 2005, the city was
still operating under Flagler County zoning designations. It wasn’t until
November 2008 that Palm Coast’s original unified land development code took
effect. Delorenzo said the re-zoning amendment is simply a housekeeping measure
to bring the golf course up to the city’s zoning nomenclature.
But Protect Palm Coast, suspicious of the re-zoning, believes city officials are
discreetly planning a “bait and switch.”
“It’s all about the city administration – not elected officials – rezoning our
designated parks and recreation lands for a master-planned development for
multi-family,” Dennis McDonald wrote in an email to group members last month.
“How is this possible that the administration is playing developer?”
JDI also owns the Palm Coast Marina, a property along the Intracoastal Waterway
that the developer wants to give to Palm Coast.
City officials say that’s because it’s easier for cities to get rehab grants
than a private developer. But detractors say its all part of JDI’s main goal of
getting the city’s okay to build hotels and condos on that waterfront property.
Mike McGuire, who has lived near the golf course in The Oaks subdivision since
2005, suspects Jacoby is baiting the city and using the driving range as
leverage to get what they want at the Palm Coast Marina.
“My personal observation is that this whole golf course thing is just kind of
being used as sort of a straw-dog type thing. It’s something that you can end up
giving up to get more of what you want at the Marina. The Marina’s where you’re
going to make the money.”
Schottey described an Oct. 24 neighborhood meeting the city hosted at the Palm
Coast Community Center as “super heated.” At least 150 residents, many of them
in opposition, showed up and grilled JDI developers about the project, according
to attendees on both sides of the issue. Schottey said there was a lot of
misinformation about the development agreement circulated in advance of that
meeting. He used a Don Quixote literary reference to emphasize that the
developer’s proposed plans are still in the very early stages.
“It’s so early that what was presented at the (neighborhood) meeting likely
isn’t going to be anywhere near what will be presented to the planning board. So
it’s way too early in the process to get up in arms about something. At this
point, it’s tilting at windmills. It’s getting mad about something before
there’s really anything concrete to get mad about.”