- May 12, 2021
Ocoee leaders are exploring the opportunity of acquiring more properties in the city.
City commissioners voted unanimously at their Feb. 5 commission meeting to allow staff to seek appraisal of the Forest Lake Golf Course as well as an appraisal for properties owned by the Church of Christ in downtown Ocoee. The owners of the properties have offered to sell their properties to the city.
“We are bringing this item forward to discuss something that has become, kind of, a symptom of all the good things that we’re doing with our downtown (and) with the developments that are going on in our CRA (Community Redevelopment Agency), and that is properties becoming more valuable here,” Assistant City Manager Craig Shadrix said. “We are seeing more opportunities to look at acquiring (other) properties, because we are doing good things with our property.”
The city owns the land on which the Forest Lake Golf Course was built, and the course is operated by Ocoee Golf LLC. The golf course operates under a 50-year lease with the city, and there are about 25 years remaining on the lease.
“Forest Lake Golf Course has been a fixture here since 1994,” Shadrix said. “It is probably one of the most profitable golf operations in Central Florida right now. It has a stated, positive net income of over $500,000, and they make lease payments to the city that are roughly $45,000 a year. We were recently approached by the operators of Ocoee Golf LLC. … who are interested in the city possibly buying out the golf operation.”
Funding for the appraisal is approved for up to $19,500. The appraisal staff is seeking what would be the value of the golf course and the cost to operate it. Shardrix recommended Steven McDonald, of GAI Consultants Inc. Service Group, handle the appraisal.
“To finance something like buying out that golf operation, we need to have a clear evaluation of what the operation itself is worth, because they do not own the land, but they’ve built a business there and they have assets and they have a balance sheet that’s pretty profitable over the last 25 years,” Shadrix said.
Although staff only is seeking an appraisal of the golf operation at this point, if the city does end up purchasing the operation, city leaders plan on keeping the golf course.
“That (golf course) … is an amenity we want to keep,” Mayor Rusty Johnson said, adding the golf course operators are ready to retire.
The Church of Christ property in downtown being offered for purchase is about 1.5 acres. A half-acre portion of the property is along the east side of South Bluford Avenue. from Magnolia Street. to East McKey Street. A 1.03-acre portion is along the south side of East McKey Street. The property is across the street from the future City Hall.
“They own a significant portion of that block in the middle of our downtown,” Shadrix said. “With all the goals that we have that we’re in the process of implementing for downtown redevelopment, this would be worth considering in terms of what the city could do to help redevelop (downtown) and support what’s already there.”
Cost of appraising the property is not to exceed $5,000 and would come from contingency funds.