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Longboat Key Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012 5 years ago

Dec. 7, 1989: Town-owned Key Club facilities nixed

by: Robin Hartill Managing Editor

What will the future of the Longboat Key Club and Resort look like under Ocean Properties Ltd. ownership? Will there be a new Islandside project application?

These questions are currently the talk of the town on Longboat Key, following the Delray Beach-based company’s Nov. 1 purchase of the Key Club.

But, imagine how different the future of the Key Club was poised to be following a 4-2 vote of the Longboat Key Town Commission in a Nov. 29, 1989, special meeting.

That’s when the commission voted on first reading to purchase the Key Club’s Islandside and Harbourside golf-and-tennis facilities from Arvida.

As part of a longstanding agreement between the town and Arvida, the town had the first right of refusal for the purchase of the property’s golf-and-tennis facilities. When the Shannon Hotel Group announced its plan to purchase the facilities for $22 million in August 1989, the town had 120 days to match the offer.

The town’s options were the subject of many lengthy meetings over the next four months.

Could the commission purchase the facilities? Or should the decision go to voters in a referendum? Could the town buy the facilities and then lease them back to the Longboat Key Club Association?

Most residents who attended the Nov. 29, 1989, meeting opposed the purchase. Not surprisingly, Shannon Hotel Group principal W. Shane Eagan also spoke out at the meeting against the purchase:

“It will be absolute disaster if the town purchases it,” he said, pointing out that the commission was discussing charging a transfer fee of $4,000 to golf members and $2,000 to tennis members — all of whom had already paid a one-time initiation fee.

At a Dec. 7 meeting, the commission voted 5-2 against issuing bonds to finance the purchase. The purchase wasn’t on the agenda for Dec. 7, but after the commission voted against a bond issuance, Bob Wilhelm, representing Arvida, asked the commission to give his 250 employees a great Christmas present “ … and let them know who they’ll be working for.”

Ultimately, the commission voted 4-2 that day not to exercise its first right of refusal, paving the way for the Shannon Group’s purchase that closed four months later.

On this date
Longboaters have never been shy about telling developers what they want. And when it came to a planned shopping center called The Centre — i.e., the Centre Shops — that in early December 1984 was one month away from breaking ground, they were as vocal as ever.

The Longboat Observer ran the results of a survey conducted by marketing consultants for the property about what Longboaters wanted to see there.

Their top-10 wishes:

A movie theater, 63%; high-end fashion department store, 58%; ice cream shop, 47%; fish market, 49%; book store/video rental, 43%; walk-in medical facility, 39%; Chinese restaurant, 39%; coffee shop, 33%; deli, 33%; and shoe repair shop, 32%.

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