Weston Hills Country Club redevelopment faces stiff opposition

Some city residents oppose Lon Tabatchnick’s plan to build 274 rental apartments on the site

Rendering of Weston Hills Country Club redevelopment and Lon Tabatchnick
Rendering of Weston Hills Country Club redevelopment and Lon Tabatchnick

Lon Tabatchnick, the developer of the Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort, faces sustained opposition to his proposal to build a $70 million rental apartment complex on the grounds of the Weston Hills Country Club.

Tabatchnick also would invest more than $10 million to upgrade the 50,000-square-foot clubhouse and two 18-hole golf courses at the Weston Hills Country Club, which opened about 30 years ago. The developer has a contingent contract to pay an undisclosed amount to acquire the country club, which has about 1,100 members, including Tabatchnick himself.

“People who are for it are all country club members,” said Lisa Feldman, a Weston resident who is not a member of the country club and who objects to the five-story height of the proposed apartment development and its potential for adding to traffic congestion.

“There is a very large group that’s against it,” Feldman said. “It just doesn’t seem to be a fit” with the area surrounding the country club. “My backyard, which is pretty much peaceful and quiet, will have a view of this giant thing,” she said, referring to the proposed rental apartment development.

Weston residents opposed to the apartment development have argued against it at city commission meetings since Tabatchnick submitted a proposed site plan and rezoning application for his country club project on May 9.

Since then, more than 2,600 Weston residents have signed a petition to stop the Tabatchnick’s apartment project, Feldman said.

Castle Group, which manages associations representing owners of homes near the Weston Hills Country Club, conducted a survey of the neighborhood’s residents and found that more than 80 percent of them oppose the proposed development of rental apartments on the grounds of the country club.

“I thought that it would be much more well received because of our goal to save the golf courses,” Tabatchnick told The Real Deal. “The country club is the single biggest asset the [nearby] residents have …. If that doesn’t stay top-of-the-line, it hurts their home values.”

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The developer also said the impact of his proposed apartment development on traffic would be minimal because “it’s not a product for school-age families. What we’re doing is providing a place for empty nesters in Weston who want to stay in the community but don’t need a big single-family home anymore. There’s not a product for them.”

One of the supporters of the proposed development is Ed O’Donnell, a member of the Weston Hills Country Club who resides within a mile of the property. “I think there’s lot of people in favor of the project,” he said, citing the forlorn condition of the country club’s two golf courses. “It’s pretty well documented that when golf courses fail, the surrounding home values fall.”

In October, the Weston City Commission expects to consider Tabatchnick’s proposed site plan for the Weston Hills Country Club development and a rezoning application that would permit construction of 274 apartments on 11.5 acres of the 300-acre country club.

But people opposed to the project already are appearing before the city commission to speak publicly against the rezoning application. For example, at their meeting last week, commissioners heard from seven Weston residents who were wearing red T-shirts emblazoned with “No Rezoning.”

“Nobody has issues with improving the golf courses,” said Fred Burton, one of the seven residents who addressed city commissioners at the meeting.

But Burton also said the proposed apartment development would be an “eyesore,” and he disputed Tabatchnick’s claim that the rental property would attract older tenants, not couples with school-age children. “The developer has not offered a 55-and-older deed restriction,” Burton said.

Feldman said she, too, doubts Tabatchnick’s expectation that older tenants would rent the proposed apartments for approximately $1,800 to $2,800 a month.

“He says no one will move in there with kids. I think it’s unrealistic to make a statement like that,” she said. “I know a lot of people who live in apartments with children.”