Marathon council OKs redevelopment of country club as a hotel

rmcccarthy@keynoter.comJuly 12, 2014 

The Marathon City Council on Tuesday unanimously OK'd the redevelopment of Florida Keys Country Club, a project fronted by accountant Peter Rosasco.

The council granted Rosasco's team a conditional-use permit and development agreement that includes plans for an overhaul of the golf course on Sombrero Boulevard, a 76-unit hotel, 15 three-bedroom cottages, a 170-seat restaurant, new tennis courts, a swimming pool and a new clubhouse and pro shop.

According to the development team's presentation, the construction would take place in three phases. The first would be to construct the cottages, eight on-site employee housing units and a new entrance to the club, among other things.

Phases two and three would include the course overhaul by Kip Schulties, a "professional in designing and executing golf course renovations and reconstructions," as well as the hotel, swimming pool and restaurant.

The country club has suffered in recent years from declining membership. President Bob Belcaster said the project would be much needed.

"The redevelopment is, for me, as president of the club, bittersweet. A lot of people liked it the way it was. The problem is it was unsustainable," he said. "We welcome it. We think it's very important for Marathon."

John Wolfe, a local attorney representing Rosasco's team, said the club members' first priority was to keep a golf course on the property.

"The core element of any improvement had to be improving the course,” he said. "They've chosen a group that is committed to these ideals."

Rosasco emphasized to the council that the hotel portion of the project is not meant to "overwhelm the recreational capacity."

"We're going to open it up to the public and have it available to the kids at the high school. We want the community to be able to use this as much as, or more than, the guests," he said.

According to redevelopment plans, 57 of the 76 units would be one bedroom, while another 19 would be two-bedroom suites. There would be 14,093 square feet set aside for the clubhouse and pro shop, a gym, a cafe, a meeting room, a golf simulator room and other amenities.

Based on the city's rules for interpreting transient rental units, the 91-room hotel will require 117 transient rental permits. Those would be purchased on the open market and transferred to the property, Rosasco said.

Rosasco's team appeared willing to agree to possible language Mayor Dick Ramsay suggested regarding progress on the development.

"I would love to see something built into this where we have a goal of progress, where if three years down the road nothing has been done we have an option. We are as anxious to get it done as you are, but we don't want to fall asleep at the wheel," he said.

The conditional use and development agreement are slated to be up for a second quasi-judicial hearing "largely a formality" at the July 22 council meeting. A resolution will likely be included in that hearing to finalize both items.

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