Orange Park Country Club residents eager to learn the fate of their golf course

By Don Coble don@claytodayonline.com
Posted 11/10/21

ORANGE PARK – Residents of the Orange Park Country Club are anxious to know who will buy their now-defunct golf course and clubhouse, particularly one offering to reopen the course and the building …

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Orange Park Country Club residents eager to learn the fate of their golf course

Posted

ORANGE PARK – Residents of the Orange Park Country Club are anxious to know who will buy their now-defunct golf course and clubhouse, particularly one offering to reopen the course and the building of an upscale clubhouse.

Washington, D.C., developer Banks Shao appeared to gain the support of several residents who’d rather see the return of their 18-hole course instead of the 364.7-acre property being used for more housing inside the gated neighborhood.

“I am, myself, a golf player,” Shao said after meeting with about 100 residents. “I have some friends that live in the same community. I went down and visited them, and I saw a huge potential there, plus the clubhouse property. All together I have a combination plan to not only restore the golf course.”

The property currently is owned by 121 Financial Credit Union. It obtained it after the club’s original owners, Shasta Michelle and James Anthony Price of Johnstown, Ohio, lost it in foreclosure in 2020. It was placed for auction and 121 Financial, which already won a $1.399 million judgment against the Prices and bought it for $75,100 on Oct. 27, 2020, according to records at the Clay County Property Appraiser’s Office.

The bank said months ago it would entertain offers to sell the land. Officials at 121 Financial, however, have yet to settle on a buyer.

The tax appraiser’s office said the land was worth $920,530 and the clubhouse, which has fallen into disrepair, is worth $567,986 for a combined worth of $1.489 million.

Shao met with residents in the country club to show them what he has planned. The course will need to be completely overhauled, and he said he wants to spend about $800,000 to expand the clubhouse’s ballroom to make it a popular location for larger affairs.

Without community support, Shao said he wouldn’t have made an offer of $1.2 million last August.

“It looks like not only the greens need to be restored, the entire golf course, [364] acres, is almost damaged. Small trees couldn’t even grow after two years of being abandoned,” Shao said. “I realize the risk.”

Shao said he expects to spend at least $2 million rebuilding the 18-hole golf course. He also told the homeowner’s association he wouldn’t ask for fees from non-members, he would offer a variety of membership packages to fit a family’s needs, and the course would move from private to semi-private to increase cash flow with additional rounds and special events.

He also said he hopes to build as many as 50 homes on a new proposed street adjacent to the course that wouldn’t affect current residential sightlines or play on the course. The houses would help him offset his upfront costs, he said.

Shao said he had to extend his offer last Sunday, Nov. 7, to keep his proposal current.

“So, right now it is a waiting game,” Shao said. “There’s nothing else I can do from my side.”

Messages left with 121 Financial weren’t returned. However, Chief Operating Officer Paul Blackstone met with the homeowner’s association during its September meeting to explain his financial institution’s position.

The homeowner’s association made an $800,000 offer that quickly was rejected by 121 Financial, Blackstone said.

He told them it had at least three other offers ranging between $1 million and $1.2 million. He also said all three developers had an interest in building new homes.

Shao apparently was the only of the three who expressed an interest in reviving the golf course.

The homeowners no longer have an offer to buy the property.

Blackstone told residents during their September homeowner’s meeting 121 Financial wasn’t in a hurry to make a decision since costs, including a current tax bill of $23,213,26, were already calculated in this year’s budget.

The land could be redeveloped for as many as 300 new homes, but that would require a second entrance into the community, which would require purchasing additional land, rezoning from the county and considerable opposition from current residents.

“All I can do is wait,” Shao said.

Along with the rest of the residents inside the country club community.

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