Pasco panel okays golf course conversion in Wesley Chapel

Article Courtesy of The Tampa Bay Times

By C.T.Bowen

Published March 17, 2017


DADE CITY — The mulligan requested by the owner of Quail Hollow Golf and Country Club proved to be successful.

As golf's popularity wanes, here's the new look of one Tampa Bay golf course: luxury apartments

Last week, the county's Development Review Committee authorized conversion of the 18-hole course into a residential community of up to 389 single-family homes despite objections from neighbors. The successful pitch came two months after attorney Barbara Wilhite asked for a delay during a January hearing when DRC members expressed doubts about compatibility of a new, dense development with an existing rural-flavored neighborhood.

The course, owned by Andre Carollo's Pasco Office Park LLC, is at 6225 Old Pasco Road, a mile north of Wesley Chapel Boulevard. Among the concessions to neighbors, Carollo eliminated proposed town homes, increased the buffering distance from his project to existing homes, bolstered planned drainage improvements, and agreed to a binding conceptual plan to eliminate future alterations. Forty-nine percent of the 175-acre course will be left as open space for drainage, a linear trail and buffer space.

"We're quite proud of what we've done,'' Wilhite told the DRC which consists of top county administrators plus representatives of the Pasco Economic Development council and the Pasco School District.

The Quail Hollow Golf Country Club was shuttered for four years before owners made extensive renovations and reopened in 2011. The course is now targeted for 389 homes.


Still, more than a dozen homeowners in adjoining neighborhoods told the DRC they feared the development would lower their property values and increase flooding, traffic and congestion.

"You're jamming a lot bodies and a lot of stuff in a small area,'' said Jack Diamond who lives on Golf Course Loop.

The course opened in 1965, a decade before the county adopted its zoning laws and before the surrounding Quail Hollow Estates neighborhood developed. The land is not zoned as a golf course, but rather for residential use that would have allowed up to 283 homes. The DRC agreed to the rezoning request to allow more homes on smaller lots and to include space for an office building and daycare center. The Pasco County Commission will have the final say after another public hearing at a future date.

It's not the first time the golf course had been targeted for development. More than a dozen years ago, the course owners converted the driving range into a high-density 116-home neighborhood called Fairways of Quail Hollow.

A 2006 plan for 660 homes and town homes never advanced, and a year later the course shut down. Carollo, whose father had been involved in the early stages of Quail Hollow's development, reopened in 2011 after extensive renovations to the course and clubhouse. However, Wilhite said in January the course is not profitable.

Its demise is part of a decade-long trended toward downsizing in the golf industry. The Plantation Palms Golf Club in Land O'Lakes reopened in 2016 after a two-year closure, but developers are targeting the abandoned Hidden Creek golf course outside Zephyrhills for 300 homes. In west Pasco the closed golf courses at Timber Oaks and Magnolia Valley are being redeveloped as large-scale drainage projects and neighbors in Gulf Harbors are buying their closed course for a preserve and park.

Some of the residents in Quail Hollow Estates advocated for the course to remain as open space, but that is not within the county's purview, said Chief Assistant County Attorney David Goldstein.

"DRC does not have jurisdiction to force this land to stay a golf course,'' Goldstein told the audience.

If county commissioners also approve the rezoning, the new neighborhood's first homes likely will be available in early 2019, Wilhite said.