Boca Lago Golf & Country Club’s owner plans to save the course by building a nearby hotel rather than sell off the fairways for more residential development.
Palm Beach County commissioners last week gave conceptual approval to a land use change that would allow construction of a hotel at the Boca Lago Golf & Country Club. The commission later will vote on the specific language of the land use change. County staff had recommended denial of the proposal.
“I think it’s good that we move forward with transitioning parts of these golf courses that have not been financially viable to, at least, a commercial property, rather than building more houses and high density,” Palm Beach County Commissioner Maria Sachs said during the commission meeting Thursday night.
Boca Holdings, LLC, the owner of Boca Lago, proposed the land use change to generate more golf-related revenue at the 546-acre country club at Palmetto Park Road and Lyons Road just west of Boca Raton. The manager of Boca Holdings is Bronxville, New York-based Steven Danza, according to state records.
The company plans to build a hotel with an undetermined number of rooms next to the clubhouse at Boca Lago and market the 27-hole golf course as the hotel’s signature amenity.
The golf course shrunk from 36 holes to 27 holes in 2017 after Atlanta-based homebuilder Pulte bought land on the west side of Boca Lago Golf & Country Club for a residential development called Boca Flores.
Boca Holdings says the land use change allowing a hotel would apply not only to Boca Lago but also to other planned unit developments with golf courses in Palm Beach County, including Aberdeen, Boca Greens, Boca Pointe, Boca West, and Cypress Lakes.
“I have reservations about making changes that would allow large commercial activities inside of a PUD, but in this case, I think there is an opportunity to limit it just to PUDs with golf courses,” said commissioner Gregg Weiss.
If they adopt specific language for the land use change, commissioners then would consider proposals to amend the master plan for Boca Lago and to grant a zoning variance allowing construction of the hotel next to Boca Lago’s 61,576-square-foot clubhouse.
A consultant to Boca Holdings, HVS Valuation Services, has determined that a hotel development at Boca Lago would be feasible if the hotel were located next to the clubhouse and if hotel guests could use clubhouse amenities, including the golf course.
The original planned unit development for the Boca Lago golf course community was approved in 1973. So far, about 1,800 homes have been built there. The PUD would allow construction of thousands more.
Residential development has surged at underused golf courses in South Florida as the popularity of the sport wanes nationwide.
In Sunrise, CC Homes plans to build 900 homes at the Sunrise Golf & Country Club. The country club and its 18-hole golf course have been closed since 2015.
Last year, multifamily developer North American Investment Group paid $33 million for part of a closed golf course in Boca Raton, with plans to redevelop it; and Lennar paid $27.6 million for a 524-home development site on a former golf course in Delray Beach.