BELLEAIR — Green Golf Partners, the company that has managed the Belleview Biltmore Golf Club since Belleair bought it last year, will continue in that capacity under a 10-year lease unanimously awarded by town commissioners on Wednesday.
Under Green Golf Partners' contract, the company will pay the town $160,000 a year in rent, pay Belleair about 6.5 percent of gross revenues over $1.6 million, and make a half-million dollars in course improvements over the 10 years.
If Belleair decides to terminate the contract early to sell the golf course, the town would pay Green Golf Partners a penalty that equals 1 1/2 times the two prior years' net operating revenues.
Finance board member Tom Kurey questioned things like the terms of the early termination and repair clauses, which he said had concerned a golf consultant that reviewed the lease.
And resident Karmen Hayes said it seemed the city was hurriedly pushing through the golf course lease and the proposed rezoning of the adjacent Belleview Biltmore Hotel property.
However, town staff said bearing the cost of major structural and mechanical repairs or replacement is typical for landlords. Green Golf Partners president Matt McIntee said Belleair seems adamant about selling the course, so the company negotiated an early termination penalty — its first with any of its municipal partners — to protect its employees and their pensions.
According to city documents, the golf course is expected to bring in more than $2 million a year.
Before casting his vote Wednesday, Commissioner Kevin Piccarreto reiterated that he'd prefer to sell the course, as was intended when the town bought it in February to protect the green space in light of hotel negotiations.
The town staff has said that now is not the best time to sell and that leasing will allow the town to establish a revenue baseline and increase the property's value.
Green Golf Partners' bid was among four offers to lease and three offers to buy the course.
"There are other (potential) buyers out there. We should have marketed the property," Piccarreto said. "My concern is over time, the property will only become so valuable."
Town staff said they plan to bring forward a measure by June that would solidify the property's use as open space that's barred from development.
Keyonna Summers can be reached at (727) 445-4153 or firstname.lastname@example.org.