Commissioners clear way for billionaire to turn golf course into residential development

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – There was a restrictive covenant that was supposed to protect the former semi-private Calusa Country Club golf course until 2067 in order to preserve the character of the western Miami-Dade County community. But on Thursday, Miami-Dade commissioners voted to invalidate it.

It’s part of a process that will likely allow developers to build hundreds of homes on the unprofitable 18-hole “Calusa” course at 9400 SW 130 Ave. A group of residents has been fighting the plan for years.

The restrictive covenant required 75% of the area’s homeowners to approve changing the zoning. Attorneys for the other owners of the golf course told commissioners they had the support of 84% of the area’s property owners registered as Fort Dallas Golf Club.

Both sides disputed whether or not the homeowners who agreed with the developer received monetary compensation. Opponents said there were secret payoffs and billionaire Facundo Bacardi’s power was behind it all.

The two candidates who are running for Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s job on Nov. 3 disagreed on the issue.

Commissioner Daniella Levine-Cava, a Democrat, sided with the residents who wanted the golf course to stay. Commissioner Esteban Bovo, a Republican, sided with the developer.

Commissioners Joe Martinez and Rebecca Sosa were the only others who voted against the covenant’s removal. The Save Calusa Trust, which a group of residents founded in 2012, has been fighting to protect the covenant.

About the Author:

Christian De La Rosa joined Local 10 News in April 2017 after spending time as a reporter and anchor in Atlanta, San Diego, Orlando and Panama City Beach.