Article Courtesy of The
By John Cotey
Published May 30, 2019
The price simply wasn’t right for the developers Bill Place chose to buy and
turn the Pebble Creek Golf Club (PCGC) into new homes, so the PCGC owner is
turning to a new development group.
13th Floor Homes, a
Miami-based investment management firm, was chosen late last
year from a group of bidders interested in razing New
Tampa’s oldest golf course in favor of a new housing
development. Following months of inspections and meetings
with homeowners, 13th Floor has withdrawn its interest.
“They got to end of the inspection period and wanted to
change a lot of the terms,” says Place. “We didn’t want to
change the terms.”
Place and his wife Su Lee own Ace Golf, which bought PCGC in
While the exit of 13th Floor from the process was a
disappointment for Place, he said there were seven
developers that had originally submitted bids to purchase
the 6,436-yard golf course, which opened in 1967. So, it’s
on to the next group of potential suitors, which Place would
only describe as “major homebuilders.”
Despite the lack of a sale to 13th Floor, he says the months of examination and
feedback have helped guide what will be acceptable in the future.
Place also said that while the zoning exists to build 600 homes on the 149 acres
he is selling, he wouldn’t even consider allowing that much development.
And, according to what he learned from focus groups organized by Pebble Creek’s
two homeowners associations, there also is opposition to multi-family units and
homes being built in close proximity to existing homes in the community.
“We’ve excluded all that from this next round,” Place says. “We’ll tell the next
developer that these are things that have already been worked on with the
homeowners and that we don’t want to backtrack.”
Place said that he didn’t originally choose the highest bidder because they
wanted to come in and build rental homes. “We don’t feel that would be
appropriate for the community,” he says.
Although there is a large contingent of residents opposed to the sale of the
golf club (and what they fear will be a resulting loss of wildlife and green
space) for any reason, the inspection period, which included lots of meetings
with Pebble Creek’s HOAs and focus groups, was not acrimonious.
“Not at all, surprisingly so,” said 13th Floor corporate counsel Dan Daley. “The
community, particularly the HOA members and leadership, understood the reality
of the situation.”
That reality, Place says, is that the golf course is losing money — he has said
that 2018 revenues were down 33 percent, and profits were down 50 percent — as
the golf course industry struggles nationwide.
The club currently has only 20 members, and competition is stiff. In New Tampa
alone, Pebble Creek has to compete with private country clubs at Hunter’s Green
and Tampa Palms, as well the recently revamped Heritage Isles on Cross Creek
Place even said that since Ace Golf bought Plantation Palms Golf Club — which
had been closed for two years and is located only 10 miles from PCGC (in Land
O’Lakes) — in 2015, with the hopes of reviving it, Plantation Palms also has
drawn additional business away from Pebble Creek.
While the sale of PCGC remains imminent, Place says that it currently is still
business as usual. Mulligan’s Pub continues to be a popular hangout, and the
club itself is booking weddings and other events through the end of next year.
“It’s physically impossible to get through the zoning and public input before
then,” he says, “so we are still booking events through 2020. The one thing I
have refused to do is operate like a business that is going out of business.”