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Sun City Center board ponders future of golf courses

SUN CITY CENTER — The community association here is taking steps to learn the value and operating costs of several area golf courses months after developer WCI filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

WCI Communities Inc., the developer that built much of Sun City Center and runs its golf courses, reassured the community after filing for bankruptcy in August that it would maintain the links on its seven golf courses during its financial reorganization.

But some residents grew concerned when WCI cut the hours at the North Lakes course due to a drop in use. The residents started talking about purchase offers, said Paul Wheat, president of the community association.

The association board became involved because it holds the right-of-first-refusal on two of the courses should WCI put the courses on the market — which it hasn't, he said.

The association formed the Golf Course Task Force, which has sent out requests for proposals to 16 consultants to see how much the consultants would charge to study the value and maintenance costs of the North Lakes, Sandpiper and Caloosa Greens executive courses, Wheat said.

The consultants have until early December to file their proposals, Wheat said. The task force is expected to review the proposals and make a recommendation to the board by Jan. 12.

Depending on the projected price tag of the study, the board might not take any action and instead wait to see what becomes of WCI, he said.

But the board wants to be prepared should WCI suddenly need to unload the golf courses on the market. And if the board hires a consultant and likes what it finds about the value and operating costs of the golf courses, it could take the initiative and make an offer to WCI, he said.

"There's been a lot of discussion, do we even want (the golf courses) if they're given to us," he said.

Saundra Amrhein can be reached at amrhein@sptimes.com or 661-2441.

Sun City Center board ponders future of golf courses 11/13/08 [Last modified: Thursday, November 13, 2008 3:30am]
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