Homeowners are excited about new construction

Article Courtesy of The Tampa Tribune


Published April 12, 2010


SAN ANTONIO - Homeowners in the troubled Tampa Bay Golf & Country Club say attitudes are "sky high" now that Starwood Land Ventures took over for the defunct developer TOUSA.

Bradenton-based Starwood bought all of TOUSA's Florida-based assets at auction for $81 million and immediately sold a bulk of its Tampa area inventory to homebuilder Lennar. Now Lennar is building new model homes - the first new construction in the community in two years.

Ray Proch, the sole homeowner on the community's master association, said Lennar representatives have hosted barbecues and other events for residents. The sales staff is actively marketing the community, and the model homes will be completed this month.

"They're very confident about demand," Proch said. "Their goal is to sell 12 units a month, which is very ambitious."

Last week Starwood officials announced they had negotiated an agreement with The Falcone Group that would allow the master homeowners association to buy the community golf course, country club and other amenities for $3.5 million.

The purchase price is virtually identical to a proposal residents made in 2009, Proch said. The Falcones rejected the offer last year.

"They weren't even willing to discuss it," Proch said. "Three weeks later, they stopped making mortgage payments."

But the Falcones continued to collect their homeowner fees, which would have totaled $3.2 million this year. Each homeowner pays a $185 a month amenity fee for access to the clubhouse and pool. Golf costs extra.

"Initially, we feel very strongly that we'll be able to reduce the current number," Proch said.
Association board members will have 45 days to inspect Falcone's books and financial records before voting to approve the purchase. Those books have been a mystery, and some residents even sued in 2009 to force the Falcones to share their financial records after resident amenity fees were raised 70 percent.

Many residents have suspected that the Falcones used homeowners fees to subsidize the golf operation and restaurant.

As long as TOUSA executives held a majority of seats on the master association, it never pressed for the financial records. That changed when Starwood took over, appointed its own directors and hired new counsel. On March 17, attorney Susan Spurgeon wrote the Falcones to tell them they were statutorily obligated to turn over their financials.

Three weeks later, the two sides reached a purchase agreement.

Starwood consultant David Ivin and other representatives will host homeowner meetings at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Tuesday, to answer any questions. "A lot will be explained at the meetings," Ivin said. "The details will come out."

Proch will host a follow-up meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday.

Golf community teed off over fees