Reduced city council approves sale of Pine Oaks’ property to affordable housing developer in emergency meeting

A three-member council approved the sale of 15 acres of property that formerly housed Pine Oaks Golf Course during an emergency meeting of the Ocala City Council on Monday morning.

The three-member council, which was absent Mary S. Rich and Brent Malever, voted unanimously to approve two purchase of sale agreements after hearing from City Manager John Zobler and Assistant City Attorney W. James “Jimmy” Gooding III during the meeting, which was publicly noticed only five days ago after a request from Mayor Reuben Kent Guinn.

“We’re asking you to consent to two purchase of sale agreements. This pertains to the development agreement for Pine Oaks Golf Course with West Oak Developers,” said Zobler. He indicated that although it was one of the city’s first contracts that included an affordable housing development requirement, West Oak Developers had “found a very competent, affordable home developer” to help with the project.

According to Zobler and Gooding, the developers, Madison Oaks East and Madison Oaks West, require ownership of the two properties totaling 15.02 acres in order to qualify for federal affordable housing grants.

Gooding suggested that the agreement was a standard one between any “large property owner and developer.”

“Apparently because of requirements to get the affordable housing grant, the buyer in this case has to be able to control the property,” said Gooding.

The properties encompass 5.9 acres devoted to 86 affordable elderly apartments and 9.12 acres devoted to 100 affordable single-family apartments.

Madison Oaks East Elderly Apartments
This rendering shows Madison Oaks East projected Elderly Apartments
Madison Oaks West Multifamily Apartments
This rendering shows Madison Oaks West projected Multifamily Apartment

“The goal of this is to assist the buyer in getting the grants, therefore to get a kickstart this development,” explained Gooding.

Read a complete copy of the purchase agreement between the city of Ocala and West Oak Developers, LLC.

Council members were unsure of how the sale was necessary.

“How can you say that Madison Oaks has control of the property,” asked President Pro-Tem Jay Musleh, who represents District 3.

“It’s a function of how they award the grant,” answered Gooding.

After a brief discussion, the purchase sale agreement was approved by the three-member panel.

Pine Oaks golf course held its last regularly scheduled golf rounds earlier this year, and just across the street, Ocala’s Wetland Groundwater Recharge Park had been nearing a flooding ceremony before experiencing multiple delays on account of sinkholes and water spills this summer.