Bacardi family facing community opposition to West Kendall development plans

Residents of the more than 400-home Calusa Country Club community in West Kendall are up in arms after the owner of their 160-acre golf course shuttered the green and revealed plans to redevelop the lot into a $200 million, 960-unit retirement community. The owner, Facundo Bacardi, of the Bacardi rum family, bought the Calusa complex in 2006, and has since failed in his plan to reposition the golf course as a private, upscale club with $200,000-a-year memberships. The site closed March 14, and Bacardi sent a letter to Calusa homeowners who live adjacent to the course explaining that it had been losing money and could not continue to operate. Bacardi needs 75 percent of the 144 golf course-adjacent homeowners to sign off on his plans, due to a 1968 covenant stating that the property may only be used as a golf course unless residents sign a waiver of exception. In order to sweeten the deal, he’s offering $50,000 per homeowner who signs the waiver and is promising them access to new fountains, sitting areas, gazebos and other park amenities once the project is completed. Nonetheless, dozens of residents picketed against his proposal during community meetings last week during community meetings, vowing not to sign. If Bacardi doesn’t persuade enough residents to get onboard, his lawyers say he may pursue legal action against the covenant. [Miami Herald] 

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