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Tuesday, Sep 02, 2014
Plant City Courier

Company signs contingency deal to buy Walden Lake golf club

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Published:   |   Updated: April 18, 2014 at 10:05 AM

PLANT CITY — A company that has developed shopping centers in Tampa and beyond for decades has agreed to buy the troubled Walden Lake Golf and Country Club.

Coastal Companies' deal for the property is contingent on the city rezoning 131 acres for development, mostly on a closed golf course known as The Hills.

“We think it's a great opportunity,” company President Curtis Crenshaw said.

Visions Golf LLC, which has owned the country club and its two courses for eight years, will be totally out of the operation of Walden Lake if the sale goes through, Managing Partner Steve Mercer said.

The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Visions Golf in February filed for rezoning for hundreds of single family and multi-family homes and a 120-unit assisted living facility, for the most part on the golf course it closed last summer.

Crenshaw said his company's plans haven't been finalized but he envisions asking for a ratio of two-thirds single family homes and one-third single-story town homes. His company would build the assisted living facility on a spot on the 131 acres where the access wouldn't be via the main roads in the more than 2,000-home Walden Lake.

Crenshaw said he'll plow the profits from lot sales and assisted living center development into the golf and country club operation. The country club and the 18-hole course known as The Lakes remains open but Crenshaw said both need a lot of work.

He foresees either remodeling or replacing the country club at 2001 Clubhouse Drive, opening a golf instruction school and refurbishing the golf course

“The whole thing fits together very well,” he said.

Ron Weaver, a Tampa attorney working on the rezoning, said Crenshaw will restore the golf and country club's “world class reputation.”

City planners are reviewing the rezoning application and no public hearings are scheduled on the request.

Crenshaw said he's working with retired PGA golfer Jimmy Wright on the golf course improvements. Bridgepoint Capital is also working with him on the deal.

Crenshaw said his Palm Harbor-based company has developed shopping centers in Tampa and as far away as Texas since he moved to the Tampa area in the early 1970s. He said he has some golf course experience, and Wright will also bring a lot to the table.

Mercer said his company thinks Coastal is the best option for Walden Lake.

“We think this is best for us and for the community,” he said.

Twitter: @dnicholsonTBO

dnicholson@tampatrib.com

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