Gables Commission Oks Funds For Country Club Overhaul
By Candice Ventra
Coral Gables commissioners have approved spending up to $5 million to renovate the Country Club of Coral Gables, simultaneously clearing the way for Ritz-Carlton to manage it.
City officials agreed to provide up to $5 million toward the cost of improving the 1922-vintage Country Club of Coral Gables, 997 North Greenway Drive. According to a letter of request submitted to City Manager Jack Eads by club President Arnold Perry, the project’s total cost is estimated at $7.2 million.
Ritz-Carlton will cover the $2.2 million difference in furniture and equipment costs, Mr. Perry said.
Funds for the project would be processed through a loan from the Sunshine State Governmental Financing Commission over 25 years, said Donald Nelson, Coral Gables finance director.
Based on an agreement in 1996, the Country Club of Coral Gables manages, operates and maintains the facility on behalf of the city, he said. The commission approved an amendment to this agreement allowing Ritz-Carlton to take on the management and operation, he said.
"They want Ritz-Carlton to bring the facility up to a higher level in food and service," Mr. Nelson said.
Mr. Perry’s letter also states club membership has been declining due to the club’s need for renovation.
"The club’s facilities have aged and are no longer sufficiently attractive," the letter states. "The club’s membership has declined in numbers. It has been very difficult to attract sufficient new members to stem the decline."
Renovations will include an interior make-over, wall re-partitioning, new electrical and lighting fixtures, and a new patio and entranceway, Mr. Nelson said.
Executives at Ritz-Carlton, he said, expect the renovations to start as early as mid-summer and to be finished within six to nine months thereafter."