Article Courtesy of The
By Eileen Zaffiro-Kean
Published July 1, 2018
DAYTONA BEACH — For more than 40 years, the Indigo Lakes neighborhood has been a
serene place with natural ponds encircled in cattails, majestic trees towering
over lush greenery below and a golf course regarded as one of the best in the
But in the past few years, the 18-hole golf course and its long-popular
clubhouse have struggled. There have been unprecedented shutdowns for weeks at a
time. The once top-tier greens and fairways have become soggy embarrassments
with both overgrown patches and bare spots.
The course has changed ownership five times in the past 30 years, and over the
past decade there have been at least two attempts to cover some of the course’s
250 acres with new homes and businesses.
So when residents of the 450-home neighborhood started seeing survey stakes pop
up along the course about a month ago, they went on high alert. Rumors about a
sale and plans for new residential and commercial development have been running
rampant in the neighborhood west of Williamson Boulevard near International
It turns out the golf course is not in the process of being sold, but its owners
are most definitely making moves to redevelop some of their property. On
Wednesday, City Manager Jim Chisholm and Deputy City Manager Jim Morris met with
Colin Jon, a Chinese-Canadian investor who is part of a group that bought Indigo
Lakes Golf Club in 2013.
Jon didn’t present a detailed proposal, but he did have a general idea he
floated to see how it would work with city regulations, said City Commissioner
Rob Gilliland, whose west Daytona Beach zone includes Indigo Lakes.
Since a few weeks of heavy rain hit Daytona Beach
this spring , the Indigo Lakes golf course has been shut down.
Neighborhood residents say it's just the latest unexpected shutdown
since Hurricane Matthewin 2016.
“The survey stakes were for him to kind of figure out the boundaries of what he
owns out there,” Gilliland said. “He’s looking at trying to do stuff on the
south end of the neighborhood, which is basically the back nine.”
Four of those back nine holes have homes on them. Chisholm’s own backyard
overlooks one of the course’s holes on the north end of Indigo Lakes, where he
has lived since 2004. He did not return a call seeking comment.
It’s not clear how much housing or commercial development Jon might be
interested in putting up, or exactly where within the south end of the
neighborhood just east of Interstate 95, Gilliland said. But Jon did say he was
thinking about building a new clubhouse, tennis courts and a pool.
“He still has a long row to hoe as far as getting a plan together that he can
get the residents to agree with,” said Gilliland, who’s been getting phone calls
from curious constituents. “There’s really nothing concrete at this point. It’s
more of a conceptual conversation of what he can and can’t do, although it
sounds more like what he can’t do.”
Jon and his partners, who could not be reached for comment, are getting guidance
from both local Cobb Cole attorney Michael Sznapstajler and Boca Raton attorney
Michael Weiner, who both have expertise in land use. Neither attorney divulged
“We are so early in the process,” said Weiner, who added that “there’s nothing
being hidden” and that if plans move forward residents will be brought into the
conversation soon. City regulations would require a neighborhood meeting before
anything could be voted on by the city’s Planning Board and City Commission.
It would probably take at least six months to get to a final vote and decision.
But even if city leaders consider approving a project, the various homeowners’
associations in Indigo Lakes could cite covenants and restrictions that could
lead to lawsuits against the golf course owners.
Jon, an executive with a company that manufactures golf and bowling shoes in
China, has also enlisted the help of Mark Karat, director of planning and
landscape architecture for Zev Cohen and Associates in Ormond Beach. In April, a
city planner sent Karat a package of information explaining what can — and can’t
— be done in the three zoning designations attached to the golf course property
that’s woven throughout the neighborhood.
The zoning is split into single family residential, multi-family residential and
residential/professional uses, city records show. There’s also a Scenic
Thoroughfare Overlay District on the golf course property that requires
larger-than-usual setbacks for development.
The current zoning would allow things such as duplexes, multi-family complexes,
assisted living facilities, hospice facilities, childcare facilities, public and
private schools, nursing homes, places or worship and shelters for victims of
Next act, same play
It’s at least the third time an owner has tried to build on the Indigo Lakes
golf course. In 2007, under an owner who had bought the course the previous year
for $3.6 million, there was an attempt to use 53 acres for residential
development and to modernize the golf course and clubhouse.
A measure city commissioners passed in July 2007 changed the future land use of
those 53 acres south of Indigo Drive and Crooked Stick Drive. Under the changes,
a little over 28 acres could have as many as eight new residential units per
acre, and another 25 acres located along Williamson Boulevard and Indigo Drive
could have up to 10 residential units per acre.
There would be a 35-foot height limit for new buildings within 300 feet of
existing single-family homes, and a 48-foot height limit for structures farther
out. The Great Recession hit around the time the measure passed, so nothing came
It could have had a huge impact on Frank Bertalli, who for 20 years has run
Executive Tour and Travel in a small one-story building across from the golf
course clubhouse. He said the golf course owners in 2007 were looking at putting
a high-rise condo on the 10th hole, which is a short distance south of his
“They were interested in this building for a sales office,” Bertalli said.
Starting in 2016, three years after Jon and his partners bought the 18-hole
property for $1.25 million, there was an attempt to shut down the whole golf
course and create something different. There would have been a plethora of new
residential development and a trail system.
With talk of 400-600 new units, Gilliland said that plan proposed too much
density and was “very invasive.” He said the idea “died quietly.”
“Weiner came here a year ago and talked about plowing over the entire golf
course,” Gilliland said. “Here they are a year later. Now it’s a portion of the
golf course. This is just the next act in the same play.”
He expects Jon will be back with a more detailed plan in about a month.
The Indigo Lakes course was built in 1976. For the first few decades of its
existence it was a first-class place to golf. It was a top choice for
tournaments and fundraisers as well as banquets and meetings.
In the early 1990s, the LPGA moved from Texas to Daytona Beach and chose Indigo
Lakes as its temporary home course while its permanent facility was being built
in its current location on the city’s western edge. Around that time, in 1994,
the 18-hole facility was purchased for $5 million. Now the most recent property
appraiser review values it at $566,248.
Once a private members-only operation, in recent years the course opened to the
Indigo Lake’s slide mirrors a national trend of fewer people golfing, and
courses struggling just to break even. Gilliland said in the past few years,
more golf courses nationwide have closed than opened, something that has never
Gilliland, who lives in the Pelican Bay golf course neighborhood, said anyone
who calls a golf course community home needs to pay attention to the changes
their neighborhood could face. That’s what Indigo Lakes residents have done, but
when they dug for information they came up with very little.
A few curious residents who contacted the city wound up getting some incorrect
information. Last week, city spokeswoman Susan Cerbone sent a letter to a
resident saying “the golf course recently sold and the new owner is conducting a
tree survey, which is probably why you see flags on the trees.”
Cerbone went on to write that “the owners haven’t submitted official plans to
the city about what they are proposing.” Then on Monday, when The News-Journal
asked about the golf course, Cerbone said there had been an inadvertent
miscommunication at City Hall and she clarified that the course had not been
A search of Property Appraiser records confirms the property hasn’t changed
hands since 2013. Property Appraiser Larry Bartlett also checked, and he said
there’s no indication the property has sold. But residents who relied on what
their neighbors told them didn’t realize that, and worry is running amok.
“It seems to be a big mystery,” said Indigo resident Judy Ziems. “Is it a sure
thing it will remain a golf course, or is it likely to be rezoned for something
Ziems, who lives on Sea Island Circle, said there are also flooding concerns in
the neighborhood since the golf course owners changed the flow of storm water.
Reviews of the Indigo course posted on Golf Advisor and TripAdvisor are mixed.
One reviewer said it was a “great course,” and he couldn’t “wait to play again.”
A TripAdvisor post from April 2017 said “poor greens, inconsistent bunkers, thin
fairways,” but added that “routing was nice and staff in the grill were great.”
Another reviewer who played the course in early September of 2017 wrote that the
“greens were very rough,” but added, “enjoyed our day and have no regrets.”
A review on TripAdvisor from early December said “the greens were horrible,
filled with sand and ruts, water. Multiple bare spots and slow. The bunkers
lacked sand to the extent raking was not necessary after a shot.” The reviewer
from Ormond Beach added that the recent green fee increase was “further insult,”
and he ended his review saying “given what this course once was, I was very
disappointed and won’t be returning any time soon.”
On Golf Advisor, a man posted in early March that he had played Indigo since the
mid 1980s. He wrote that “the owners have let it deteriorate to now being maybe
the worst in the Volusia/Flagler area of Florida. The greens have more weeds
than Bermuda. The fairways are much worse than other courses in this area. Tee
boxes are nothing but brown packed dirt.”
Other than a man cutting the grass and two officials who met with Jon on the
property this week, the course, pro shop and restaurant were deserted. Signs on
the clubhouse doors said the golf course was shut down because of the over
saturation from recent rain.
Ernie Pastor, who used to live a block away from the course and became a charter
member in 1976, found a ghost town when he drove into the course parking lot one
afternoon this week.
“It’s a shame,” said Pastor, who lives in Daytona Beach Shores now.
In a neighborhood where some homes sell for as much as $500,000, there’s deep
concern about losing equity if the golf course closes or additional homes are
“I don’t think it’s reasonable to the homeowners not knowing what’s happening,”
said Gary Arledge, who lives around the corner from the city manager.
Dave Cain said he’s thinking about selling his house.
“If the golf course does close, what’s that going to do to our values here?”
Cain asked. “It’s been the talk of the neighborhood, but nobody seems to know
Richard Bourassa, who has lived near Cain’s home on Fiddlesticks Circle for 18
“We’d like to find out what’s going on,” Bourassa said. “It makes a big impact
on our property values.”