Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Forest Lakes Plan to Proceed

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Forest Lakes Plan to Proceed

Article excerpt

GOLF COURSE REVIVED: But nearby condo complex's residents are not happy

SARASOTA

The Forest Lakes golf course, one of the region's most glaring casualties of the Great Recession, might be coming back to life.

A developer plans to revive the blighted 18-hole course, build a new clubhouse and sell a chunk of land for additional residences.

Prominent Canadian homebuilder Mattamy Homes, which intends to build up to 200 villas and townhomes on a 24-acre parcel on the east side of Beneva Road, is a key player in the plan.

"The initial thing that drew us to the property is the location," said Ed Suchora, Mattamy's Tampa/Sarasota division president. "Anytime you can get west of I-75 with new construction is rare. You don't find that very often today."

After eight years of watching their golf course overtaken by weeds and dirt mounds, many Forest Lakes homeowners are delighted it will be rebuilt.

"We have a very bright future," Vickie Bass, president of the Forest Lakes Country Club Estates Homeowners Association, said in the group's latest newsletter.

But not everyone is happy about the project.

Some Forest Lakes Village condominium residents, on the east side of Beneva, say the proposed villas and townhomes will come within 40 feet of their units, spoiling their views and breaking a promise to keep that land as a golf course or open space.

"We're going to be looking at the back of these townhouses," said Pat Druggan, a member of the 128-unit condo association board. "You can talk to someone 40 feet away without a microphone."

Built in 1964 by a consortium that included the late NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Otto Graham, Forest Lakes Country Club was once a popular dining and dancing spot.

Developer Mark Miller in 2004 bought the golf course -- situated on both sides of Beneva -- and planned to build 189 condos. But after bulldozing every fairway, the real estate market collapsed, Miller ran out of money and lost the property to foreclosure.

County commissioners last month unanimously approved a rezoning that will allows owner and developer Grosvenor Square Capital LLC to reconfigure the residential development and increase the number of new units allowed from 189 to 202. …

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