Herald-Tribune Business Section December 6, 2019
By John Hielscher
The sale was financed by $24 million raised through a recreation district bond sale.
The homeowners of University Park have completed the $16.75 million acquisition of the University Park Country Club.
The homeowners paid for the 27-hole golf course, recreational facilities and restaurant through a recreation district created by the Manatee County Commission that sold tax-exempt municipal bonds in a first-of-its kind public offer, according to a news release.
That district sold $24 million in bonds, at 3.33% interest, that covered the purchase price plus $7 million for issuance costs, upgrades, reserves and interest escrow.
Along with the club, the homeowners acquired about 100 acres of undeveloped land — all lakes, wells, roads, infrastructure and various buildings that were owned by Woodland Country Club Associates LLP, the limited partnership of John Neal and the Pasold Family that developed University Park. The deal closed on Nov. 22, court records show.
The bond issue will be paid over 30 years through a non-ad valorem special assessment on each home in the community, which will average $1,200 per home, the new owners said. The assessment will be collected by Manatee County. The district is a quasi-government entity, so the assets and enterprise are not subject to property or sales taxes.
“This is a monumental achievement for the residents of University Park,” John Whyte, president of the University Park Community Association, stated in a news release. “With their overwhelming support, we are now in a position to preserve and enhance all the amenities and features that set University Park apart from other communities. This could not have happened without the cooperation of owners John Neal and the Pasold family.”
The purchase was contentious. Opponents argued that Manatee County’s approval of the district was flawed, the purchase price was inflated, and proponents of the purchase disseminated false and misleading information to pressure residents into signing petitions that supported the district.
But in September a circuit court judge validated the district’s ability to sell bonds, ruling the entity was properly formed.
About Neal Land & Neighborhoods
Neal Land & Neighborhoods is a Manatee and Sarasota, Florida-based master-planned community development organization led by John A. Neal. The company incorporates smart master-planning to create the next level of elite community living in Southwest Florida. By working with carefully selected new home builders, Neal Land & Neighborhoods aims to establish thriving, sustainable, livable and ecologically sensitive communities throughout Manatee, Sarasota and Hillsborough counties. Neal Land & Neighborhoods currently owns or controls several thousand acres of land entitled for more than 9,000 future residential homes and the supporting mixed-use commercial and retail.