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Residents pave way for paying on new buildings

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image Ed Barnes, SCC CA President

By a three-to-one majority, members approved the $300 per house increase during the meeting in their Community Hall

By MELODY JAMESON

SUN CITY CENTER – Perhaps eyeing capital improvements financing on the horizon, Community Association members have increased the fee charged first-time home buyers here.

This was one of several new developments arising Thursday when the CA membership assembled for a community meeting immediately followed by a town hall session centered on a proposed multi-faceted capital improvements project.

By a three-to-one majority, members approved the $300 per house increase during the meeting in their Community Hall. The final count was 951 in favor, with 314 members registering disapproval, said David Floyd, CA board secretary.

The increase brings the so-called “transfer fee” to $1,500 from the former $1,200 level each time a SCC home is resold to an incoming purchaser, a first-time buyer in the community. The fee also applies to current SCC residents buying additional home site properties as investments.

The fees accrue in the association’s long-established Capital Improvements Fund which has underwritten big-ticket construction in the past and now figures prominently in prospective financing of a proposed $3 million building program that would add two new structures plus a cafe to the community’s Central Campus on North Pebble Beach Boulevard.

The financing and its related issues were a leading topic during the town hall session, the second of three scheduled over a three-month period. The meetings are convened to give all residents opportunity to question and comment on the multi-structure proposal aimed at expanding and upgrading decades-old community facilities no longer meeting space or use demands.

CA directors are proposing construction of two new buildings with modernistic facades, one a multi-purpose structure to house association offices and functions as well as the community’s Security Patrol and information center, plus a second structure with a matching updated exterior to serve primarily as an entertainment venue that can be divided into smaller spaces. The plan also includes a light food service café with wine bar and sports bar components.

The two larger structures are shown on architectural drawings as facing North Pebble Beach Boulevard, in place of the small existing CA complex. The café is proposed for a site adjacent to the existing outdoor swimming pool and near the indoor Atrium building as well as Atrium Plaza. Such placement of the entertainment building, however, would require relocation of at least part of the lawn bowling facility.

 One of those new developments is a pending agreement-in-principle with ClubLink, owner of the community’s golf courses. If it is firmed up, CA President Ed Barnes told the membership, relocation of the lawn bowling facility may be avoided.

Under the drafted agreement, ClubLink would provide to the community three to five acres carved from the ninth hole of the closed North Lakes Golf Course in exchange for concession on two points in the 1984 Agreement that details developer-CA responsibilities.

That concession involves the CA’s right of first refusal in connection with any prospective sale of the golf courses and with allowing public play on the Sandpiper course, Barnes said this week. It is highly unlikely the community ever will be interested in buying any of the golf courses just as it was not interested in such purchases when the opportunities arose in the past, he added.

Moreover, with addition of the former ninth hole acreage to the CA Central Campus, Barnes asserted, the proposed entertainment building can be moved further north toward the old golf course clubhouse and the lawn bowling facility then left untouched.

Barnes said he forwarded a final draft of the CA’s Letter of Agreement outlining the exchange to local ClubLink officials on Monday. No money is involved and no time frame for execution of the agreement has been specified, he noted.

Yet another new development which surfaced Thursday deals with potential financing of the proposed building program. CA directors have suggested that the estimated $3 million in costs can be covered with combined use of Capital Improvement Fund monies and a bank loan. After applying $600,000 from the fund expected to top $1.2 million by year’s end and thereby reducing the remaining bill to $2.4 million, a construction loan in that amount might be obtained from a local bank, repaid with approximately five percent interest over a 10-year period. Directors believe that the number of home re-sales to new residents each year- each adding $1,500 to the fund total - will more than cover loan payments estimated to be $305,450 annually.

Barnes emphasized that no buildings are to be used as collateral for the loan, that the loan will not encumber any resident’s home and that CA annual dues will not be appropriated to pay construction costs. Membership dues, recently increased by members from $256 to $263 per year, are expected to bump up in 2014 by one to two percent to cover increased maintenance and insurance costs generated by the new buildings.

A twist on that financing plan cropped up when a resident asked about options for self-financing; for residents themselves to invest in the improvements, perhaps through issue of bonds which would return interest to the investors while also financing the improvements without creating indebtedness to a bank. Barnes replied that CA directors also have considered such a financing approach but have not thoroughly investigated or evaluated the complexities involved in financing of this type.

In the course of the two-hour town hall, various directors provided virtual tours of the proposed new structure interiors, using architectural renderings and computer-aided graphics.

The next town hall meeting to continue review of the proposed building program is set for January 19. Meanwhile, Barnes said he also has scheduled two community “coffee and conversation” sessions on January 4 and 12 to further answer questions about the financing aspects. The latter meetings are to be held in the Atrium’s Caper Room.

CA members will vote the building plan and its financing approach up or down in two referendums set for mid-February.

Copyright 2011 Melody Jameson

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