Golf community ready to move on

Article Courtesy of The Tampa Tribune


Published April 15, 2010


SAN ANTONIO - First they bid adieu to bankrupt developer TOUSA. Now homeowners at Tampa Bay Golf & Country Club can't get rid of the Falcones fast enough.


"I'll hold the door open while someone kicks them in the butt," homeowner Paul Frahm said Tuesday after a meeting hosted by Starwood Land Ventures representative David Ivin, aka "the new sheriff in town."


Starwood, a Bradenton-based investment company, bought TOUSA's Florida assets in February for $81 million. Less than two months later, officials announced they had reached a tentative purchase agreement with The Falcone Group and its lender for the community's golf courses and amenities.


The master homeowners association would pay $3.5 million to buy the amenities, which include the swimming pool, tennis courts and country club. The purchase price is virtually identical to a proposal residents made in 2009 that Falcone rejected.


But Ivin warned residents the agreement is tentative, and Falcone isn't going quietly. "There's not a lot of agreement between Falcone and Starwood except for the fact that we need to go our separate ways," he said.

Ivin said the master association would no longer continue to funnel 75 percent of its revenue to Falcone, who "doesn't believe he needs a contract or to show his financials."

Ivin warned that if The Falcone Group rejects the sale, it could lock residents out of the facility or sell it to another private operator.


If, however, the sale goes through, the HOA expects to cut fees almost immediately. That's because the association would operate the club as a not-for-profit business, eliminating the profit margins the Falcone brothers built into their budget. It also would be exempt from taxes, and the association would be able to borrow at a lower interest rate.

Association board members will have 45 days to inspect Falcone's books and financial records before voting to approve the purchase. Dozens of homeowners offered their expertise to help with the review.


Once the final analysis is presented, homeowners will have a chance to vote on whether to go through with the purchase. Chatter on the message boards has been mixed, but the response at two standing-room-only meetings was overwhelmingly positive.


"It sounds good, and I hope a lot of people go along with it," homeowner Bobbi Nichols said.

Izzy Forman, one of several homeowners who formed a company and sought to buy the amenities from Falcone, said he supports the Starwood plan wholeheartedly. "We're behind it 1,000 percent," he said.


Even neighborhood skeptic Dominic Gualtieri said he believes Starwood officials are "sincere in the efforts." He and three other residents who sued the HOA over its dealings with Falcone agreed to drop the lawsuit.


Two things helped sway the decision. First, Ivin didn't fight the lawsuit. "We really kind of agreed with them," he said. "To us, the things they were asking for seemed reasonable."


Also, Ivin assured homeowners that if the HOA is able to complete the purchase of the amenities, Starwood would turn the association over to the residents.

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