Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Ocean Strand Is Not For Sale

Yesterday's meeting of the Greater Boca Raton Beach and Park District provided very good news to the large crowd of Ocean Blvd. residents when Chairman Bob Rollins announced that the Ocean Strand property is not for sale. Many residents of the nearby Boca Towers expressed their positive opinion at hearing the chairman introduce the public comment portion of the agenda with this announcement.

But, a few residents were concerned that the potential exists for the property to be sold without a "required" referendum of voters. One commissioner inquired from the district's attorney if the commission could request a referendum should a proposal be made to sell or lease the property. The reply from the attorney was yes, the commission could require a referendum. The attorney also emphasized that the beach and park district has never sold or leased any property since the district was formed over 20 years ago.

For more questions of the beach and park district, please contact them at info@gbrbpd.org

Monday, May 24, 2010

Town Hall Meeting-May 24th at 6pm at City Hall

There is a town hall meeting May 24th at 6pm at city hall. City council members will be present to listen to your concerns and recommendations regarding city leadership. This is your opportunity to provide your opinion on the direction of the city, including development approvals, traffic congestion, foreclosure impacts, etc...

Saturday, May 22, 2010

North Ocean Blvd. Property Proposed Development Site - Ocean Strand

The property was purchased to protect it from development, so is the city now considering breaking this promise to neighbors on North Ocean Blvd.?

Developer proposes Boca Raton park district land for private beach club
By Angel Streeter Sun Sentinel - Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Many hailed the purchase of the Ocean Strand property in 1994 as a major victory for preserving green space. For $11.88 million, the Greater Boca Raton Beach & Park District secured the city's last sizeable piece of undeveloped oceanfront property, saving the 15-acre site near Gumbo Limbo Nature Center from development. And there it has sat, undeveloped, untouched, in the midst of condominiums, single-family homes and other city parkland. Now, a developer is proposing building a private beach club on a portion of the property as part of a major development planned for downtown.

But residents who live near the property worry a beach club, possibly with dining and bars, could change the quiet, residential character of the coastal neighborhood."It would destroy the area," said Alan Goldman, who is on the condominium board of the Aegean, condominiums just south of Ocean Strand. "You've got an area here with no commercial property on the ocean side."District commissions have yet to agree; their lawyer is looking into the proposal.

"They said, 'We can think about this,' " said Bob Langford, park district executive director. "But there's a ton of things to think about. "The proposed beach club is critical to development of Via Mizner, a $1 billion redevelopment project at the northeast corner of Federal Highway and Camino Real, Penn-Florida Companies says. The mixed-use development, approved by Boca Raton's Community Redevelopment Agency in 2006, could consist of a 118-room luxury hotel, office space, 192 condominiums and high-end retail stores and restaurants. Penn-Florida has stressed to city and park district officials that the beach club would be a necessary amenity to attract an exclusive international hotel that has expressed interest in the Via Mizner project. And that hotel is critical to the success of Via Mizner overall.In an April 27 letter to City Manager Leif Ahnell, Penn-Florida President Mark Gensheimer asked the city to help the developer get access to the oceanfront portion of the Ocean Strand property to build a "low-rise beach club.

"In addition, a western portion of the property would be needed for beach club parking. In addition, Gensheimer said, Penn-Florida would help develop the Ocean Strand property as a passive park. In response, and at the direction of the City Council, Ahnell wrote to the park district board, stressing the importance of Via Mizner to the downtown and "its huge economic development potential. "He said the council was interested in exploring the beach club idea and getting public input. The developer's lawyer proposed the beach club to the district in December. Although at the time, the commissioners didn't know who the lawyer was representing or what major development he was referring to, Langford said. That had been the only contact the district had with Penn-Florida, he said.

At the December meeting, the developer's representative explained that the developer would want to lease the oceanfront property for the private beach club. But many questions remain unanswered: How much land does the developer want? How much is the developer willing to pay? When would the developer want to build the beach club?And a critical question for the park district is whether it should turn over public land to a private entity that wants to develop it.

"We haven't been too aggressive about building anything out there," Langford said. "We didn't buy it to develop it. We didn't buy it for any particular use. "The district bought it because neighbors and the city didn't want the previous owners to move forward with plans to build 79 condominiums and six beachfront homes on the site.Since the purchase, the district has done very little with the property.

Early on, it removed some old homes and duplexes. But nothing else has been done. And the land gets very little use. Neighbors seem to like that. They worry a beach club would bring traffic and noise. "It's basically like a nightclub in the middle of a residential area," said Mike Graham, who lives just north of the Ocean Strand property.While he approves of the Via Mizner project Penn-Florida plans downtown, he is skeptical about the district leasing prime real estate to a developer for a fraction of what it's worth."I'd sure like to know more about it," he said. "The beaches are nice. The traffic is minimal. It's our last piece of prime ground.

"Penn-Florida stressed it would work with neighbors to create a low density, low-rise beach club that would enhance the neighborhood, said Bonnie Kaye, a Penn-Florida spokeswoman. "The plans are conceptual," she said. "Nothing is finalized because the goal is to work with the city and the neighbors in a collaborative effort. The plans are to make it a showpiece and a welcome part of the community."

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Grandmothers report Nudity on Boca Teeca Golf Course

Below is an excerpt from a letter to the Boca Raton City Council dated Aug. 22, 2007 from a resident of San De Vance condo association as a result of explicit nudity in full public view on the North golf course of Boca Teeca. Considering this illegal activity on the golf course do you think that the owners of the golf course deserve the support of the residents of Boca Teeca?

.....Lastly, there was a significant illustration of the lack of character of the developer/owner of the country club that occurred on June 3, 2006 as the country club hosted a golf tournament by the Cheetah Lounge, called the Cheetah Golf Classic. There were approximately 25 women who were topless or completely naked and performing various fornication gyrations within feet of the patios of the San De Vance community and witnessed by women and children. Numerous calls to the country club were unresponsive and the only reason this event was stopped at approximately 5pm was due to a thunderstorm that closed the course.

I reported this illegal activity in a certified letter sent to the police chief and the mayor that was delivered on November 13, 2006. There was no written reply from the city acknowledging this lewd behavior, but a telephone call from the Capt. Brancazio of the police dept. informed me that there had been plans for several of these Cheetah events at Ocean Breeze. A brief letter of apology was received from Dennis Taback at the Ocean Breeze Country Club to the grandmothers who witnessed this immoral event. In his letter of apology, Mr. Taback claimed that the golf tournament was for the benefit of cancer & diabetes research. This is believed to be a lie, as neither of these organizations would confirm their involvement with the Cheetah Lounge golf outing and it is doubtful that either would even remotely consider such involvement on moral policy issues.

With these problems of misrepresentation and immoral activity at the Ocean Breeze Country Club, I respectfully request that the city council deny the development proposal in order to protect the moral quality of life within our community.

Federal Tax Lien on Boca Teeca Developer Dennis Taback

Joshua "Dennis" Taback has a history of not paying his Federal income taxes as shown by the attached Federal Tax Lien for over $36,000. Do condo leaders still have faith in the primary rep. for MCZ Centrum and his intent to fulfill his contract to pay condo associations $350k?
It would appear that Mr. Taback has a lot of experience with requiring debt holders to seek legal action for collection, including the Federal government.
Do you think that Boca Teeca condo associations or Teeca Woods HOA will ever receive a dime from the agreements signed by Mr. Taback to support his development on a portion of the Boca Teeca golf course?
This tax lien was not released until 3/8/06, while he was already negotiating with Boca Teeca condo residents for removing a portion of the deed restriction on the golf course in their community.

Boca Teeca Golf Course Developer Taback Doesn't Pay H.O.A. fees for Estancia

Ocean Beeze golf course principal Joshua Dennis Taback has required his personal Home Owners Assoc. to take legal action to collect their fees each of the last 2 years. $250 was not paid on January 1, 2008 and $266 for Jan. 2009. The 2009 lien is still outstanding according to Palm Beach Co. records.

How would the Boca Teeca condo leaders treat a unit owner who failed repeatedly to pay their association fees while driving an expensive imported SUV?

Maybe Boca Teeca condo leaders should ask the Estancia Association their opinion of Mr. Taback's respect for his financial responsibilities? A neighbor who does not pay their association fees places a greater financial burden on each person within the community and is normally NOT considered a worthy neighbor to trust with additional financial responsibilities, such as business agreements with additional resident associations.

Ocean Breeze Developer Dennis Taback in Personal Foreclosure

Boca Teeca's Ocean Breeze golf course principal, Joshua Dennis Taback, is listed in foreclosure on his personal residence in Estancia. Mr. Taback has stated in the SunSentinel that he intends to fight the foreclosure on the golf course owned by his partners in MCZ Centrum, yet his personal residence is also in foreclosure.
What do you make of the chances that Mr. Taback will win these foreclosure actions and uphold the agreements with Boca Teeca residents?

MCZ Centrum Delinquent for 2008 & 2009 Taxes/Boca Teeca Golf Course

MCZ Centrum has not paid their real estate taxes for 2008 or 2009, yet they claim that they are going to fight the foreclosure on the property which they purchased with mostly borrowed money from Wachovia Bank. This is another example of an over-leveraged developer who had the misfortune of investing in a project that does not generate enough cash flow to cover the debt service and taxes. This real estate investor invested less than $200,000, borrowed $7 million from Wachovia and bought over 200 acres of golf course land in Boca Raton. The property is now in foreclosure and the local representative of the developer claims that they are going to fight the foreclosure.

Developer Drops Rezoning Request on Tamarac Golf Course

Congratulations to the Residents of Woodmont in Tamarac!
Tamarac golf course rezoning idea dropped
Lisa J. Huriashtamarac@tribune.com -May 7, 2010

Residents who opposed building on a golf course at Woodmont declared victory after the owner dropped a request to rezone for a housing and commercial project. Mark Schmidt wanted to put 255 single-family homes and nearly 61,000 square feet of commercial space on the Pines golf course at Woodmont. The residents launched an expensive protest, sent their lawyers to court and planned to show up in force at a rezoning hearing last week.

Schmidt's attorneys scuttled that plan by withdrawing the application the morning of the meeting. If Schmidt were to decide to file again, the application process would start all over.
"I take this better than a unanimous win — they didn't even show up," said Woodmont resident Keenan Poole, who helped organize the protesters. "In football terms, they forfeited."

He credits the residents with defeating the owner's and developer's plan. "They started seeing the grass-roots support. They didn't think we were a power to deal with and when they saw the army marching to City Hall, they backed down." In his letter to Tamarac commissioners, Schmidt's attorney Scott Backman said that while the Pines property ultimately will be developed, for now, economic reality dictates it won't operate as a golf course, either.

"Please be advised that the financial strain being suffered by Woodmont remains critical and the unfortunate consequence of withdrawing the applications will result in the imminent closure of the Pines course," Backman wrote. "It remains Woodmont's intent to continue working with the city on an acceptable development plan for the Pines Course." Schmidt's secretary said he was on a cruise and unavailable for comment.

He did not plan to attend the meeting because residents were "misdirecting their hostility" toward him, said his son Justin Schmidt. Justin said the main reason for pulling the application is that Woodmont could not reach an agreement with Lennar, the home builder, in time for the Commission meeting. He said the course may close temporarily during this summer's off-season, and in the fall the owner will re-evaluate what to do next. Justin said residents' opposition figured into the decision. "We needed the city's cooperation to do a project like this and the greater the opposition, the less comfort level the city has," he said.

The owner wants to make "everyone comfortable with the fact a project has to be built and what that project is going to look like." A lawyer for residents who opposed the plan said they're not giving up. "The residents remain vigilant about maintaining their way of life and their golf course community and they will continue to do everything in their power to make sure they protect themselves from potential destruction on the golf course and their community," said Keith Poliakoff, the attorney for Save Woodmont Inc.

Poole said instead of sitting in a marathon commission meeting last week, he could take his neighbors out and buy "the first five pitchers of beer. It's time to celebrate."

Tamarac Retains Green Space/Denies Development on Golf Course

Residents battle for dwindling golf courses
By Lisa J. Huriash, Sun Sentinel - April 28, 2010


Not that many years ago, retirees came to South Florida to enjoy the warm weather and, if they could arrange it, regularly step out their door, strap on a golf bag and saunter over to the links. Today that idyllic portrait of life in the slow lane is fading, both for golfers and for their neighbors who relish a view of manicured greenery, tropical foliage and ponds, dotted with 9 or 18 tricky little holes. In South Florida, as in the rest of the nation, golf courses are making their way onto the endangered species list.

From 2005 through last year, 606 U.S. golf courses closed, more than ever before, according to Jim Kass, research director for the National Golf Foundation in Jupiter. In 2009 alone, 140 courses shut down, compared to 32 in 2001. And in Florida, 14 golf courses closed last year, leaving 1,054 still in business across the state. "There has been a drop in golfers and rounds over the past 10 years," Kass explained. "Also, it's the recession. Recessions cause golfers to rein in spending."

He predicted the trend will continue another five years, then drop off, as supply and demand recalibrate. The onetime golf courses are turned into residential or commercial property-–or sometimes left idle. Those who enjoy golf club views are more concerned about protecting green vistas than profits for golf course owners, and that sets up clashes between residents and owners in places like Tamarac, Sunrise, Boca Raton and Coral Springs. "Older, smaller courses have the trouble because a serious golfer wants the most state-of-the-art course they can find," said attorney Dennis Mele, who represents owners seeking to rezone for other uses. "So they lower greens fees. That takes in less revenue, and when you take in less revenue, it's problematic."

Mele tried that argument on behalf of Edward Rack, owner of the Glades course at Colony West in Tamarac, but it didn't work. Rack wanted to rezone for 375 townhouses and two-story condos and nearly 52,000 square feet of commercial space.Instead, on April 15 the city commission bowed to the wishes of residents seeking to preserve not only their views but, as they see it, a way of life.

The grandchildren of Ann Frank, a golf course resident who died last year at age 79, want to hang on to the lush spot where their father taught them to hit balls with clubs no taller than they were." My kids would love to see that view, even though they haven't been made yet," grandson Taylor Frank, 19, pleaded to commissioners. "If that view is gone, my house is pointless." The battle continues in Tamarac.

On Wednesday the commission will vote on another controversial golf course proposal, one that would put 255 single-family homes and nearly 61,000 square feet of commercial space on the Pines golf course at Woodmont. The residents have launched an expensive protest, hiring attorneys and going to court."Most people who live in Woodmont bought their home purposely because they wanted to live on a green space," said Frankie Blankenship, whose house is on the 11th hole of the Pines course. As the meeting approaches, "I think we're all feeling very on edge," she said last week.

She could take heart from what happened three years ago in Sunrise, when commissioners killed a plan to develop the Sunrise Country Club golf course into a mixed-use project with up to 500 condominiums.Neighbors complained the project would devour one of the city's last open spaces and destroy one of its oldest golf courses. The property owner complained it had been losing money for years."We fought the developer," Sunrise Commissioner Sheila Alu said. "Golf courses are dying. But I was strongly against developing pristine land, and killed the deal."

The Save Boca Raton Green Space committee hired a lawyer to kill plans to build 211 townhomes on part of the Ocean Breeze Golf & Country Club. The committee lost the battle, but the economy may still hand them victory in the war.In 2007 the city approved townhouse construction on 30 acres of the course in the Boca Teeca subdivision, but the homeowners' legal challenge caused a delay. State approval finally came late last year. In March, the developers got a notice of foreclosure for the golf course, and now the owners are working with the bank to extend a $7 million loan. That leaves Robert DuKate, who lives on the golf course and chaired the Save Boca Raton Green Space committee, worried about declining property values. "There's always a premium value on a view in an urban environment," he said. "That's being taken away.

"Miramar rezoned the defunct Eagle Woods Golf Course three years ago to make way for the Foxcroft housing development, about 600 residences, but because of the economy, no homes have been built on the site. In Deerfield Beach, developers are trying some variations on the theme of wholesale golf course conversions. The owner of the two Tam O'Shanter Golf Courses wants to give 77 of their 97 acres to the city. In exchange, the developer would be allowed to put 500 residences on the remaining 20 acres. That deal goes to the city planning board this summer. Last week the Deerfield Beach City Commission voted to let the Deerfield Country Club convert 31 of its 74 acres into a business park, leaving a golf course on the rest of the property. The proposal is headed to the Broward County Commission.

Lauderhill's famous Inverrary golf courses are protected by deed restrictions that require, before there can be development, a 75 percent majority vote by neighboring property owners. So although three of the courses have gone to new owners in recent years, nothing has happened. "A golf course is what people paid to see when they bought their homes," said Joel Leshinsky, the Inverrary Association president. "Progress is a wonderful thing, but it can't interfere with people's lives.

''Tamarac's mayor expects the golf course conversion issue to linger. She said the only way to keep developers at bay is to support the courses and help them thrive. After the April 15 vote on Colony West, Mayor Beth Flansbaum-Talabisco asked residents to work with the Rack family "to come up with something" to improve the course's business. "The status quo doesn't work anymore," she said. Norm Rack, the owner's son, scoffed at the mayor's suggestion and threatened to close the course this summer.

Rezoning one of two courses for housing would have helped make it financially viable to keep the other course open, he argued. After the vote, he had this to say about the residents who won: "They don't know what I'm going through."Staff writers Georgia East, Susannah Bryan and Angel Streeter contributed to this report.