Plan to reopen Turkey Creek golf club gains momentum


Published: Friday, August 8, 2014 at 4:44 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, August 8, 2014 at 4:44 p.m.

A new effort by residents to reopen the Turkey Creek golf and country club has already garnered support from potential members — with more support needed in order to convince investors to join as partners to buy and renovate the club.

John Tingue, who is leading the push for the Turkey Creek Members Club along with Forest Hope, said the Members Club has received interest forms from close to 200 potential members, including residents, as well as people and businesses from outside Turkey Creek.

Membership levels range from $15 per month, to $50 for a swimming pool membership, up to $465 for a full family membership with unlimited golf play. The pledges so far total more than $200,000, Tingue said, adding that organizers are seeking pledges to volunteer time to the club, as well.

Hope, who helped his father, Norwood Hope, develop the 1,200-home community, said they are more than halfway to where they need to be before a noon Sept. 15 deadline, although more people can sign up after that. The interest forms that come in by the deadline will be presented to potential partners.

Hope said six partners, including himself and Tingue, have committed to investing up to $200,000 each so far and more are waiting to see how much support the club generates by the deadline.

Organizers hope to close on a deal to buy the club for $1.5 million on Oct. 1 and reopen the golf course and club in June 2015. Their plan calls for $1.4 million to $1.7 million in renovations to the clubhouse, golf course, pool and exercise facility, walking trails and tennis courts.

Interest forms and more details about the club are available at www.fixusfirst.org/.

The golf and country club closed in April 2011 as a result of declining memberships and needed upgrade costs.

A business has since reopened the pool with a small restaurant and tiki bar. Hope said they would like that business to continue and could help supplement its income with membership dues.

A market analysis of Turkey Creek by Tim Becker of the University of Florida Bergstrom Center for Real Estate Studies showed that property values for homes with a view of the golf course — where greens are now covered with tall grass — have done worse than other homes in the community.

"Typically homes or lots with a golf view command a premium over those that don't. That relationship is reversed for Turkey Creek," Becker said.

Becker said the magnitude of the effect is difficult to discern because the housing market also brought values down.

Since 2009, taxable property values in the community have fallen from a total of $213.6 million to $149 million, according to information compiled by the membership club from tax records.

A survey of Realtors also showed that many buyers had negative perceptions because of the closed golf course and would not consider Turkey Creek, Becker said.

Past efforts to save the club by golfers and people concerned about the impact on property values have fallen flat with many homeowners who didn't use the club.

An effort to create a special taxing district to buy and reopen the club is on hold to see how the membership club turns out, said resident Marty Misner, who described himself as the point person for the special district.

"I support any effort that will open the golf course in Turkey Creek," Misner said.

"I hope they are successful and hope they are able to open it up under private ownership."

Tingue held a meeting for potential investors on June 25 and a community meeting July 30 at Calvary Baptist Church with more than 150 people in attendance.

Hope also presented the plan to the Turkey Creek Master Owners Association board of directors Wednesday night. He said Thursday that the board was receptive to the idea.

The organizers also plan to present the idea to the Alachua City Commission on Aug. 25.

Hope said the city of Alachua provided reclaimed water to the golf course in the past and they want to make sure that is available to them.

Tingue said they are also seeking city and county support to hold youth recreation programs at the golf course and pool.

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