SEBRING The city has another counter offer for Harder Hall.
Arthur Marrero, of MVP Properties, headquartered in Davie, has offered the city $2 million in cash, plus another $1.4 million, 5-year balloon mortgage.
Marrero hasn't revealed exact plans, but the second of his four terms centers on what can be built at 3300 Golfview, the site of the 50,000 square-foot historic hotel on the west shore of Little Lake Jackson.
"The current zoning dictating a maximum height of four stories and 12 units per acre is not acceptable," Marrero wrote in a Dec. 5 letter addressed to City Manager Scott Noethlich. "I understand our request of eight stories and 40 units per acre is a bit high, but I am sure we can meet somewhere in the middle. I suggest 24 units at six stories should be more acceptable, which is similar to what was granted to me at the Majestic Cove project. The existing Harder Hall is currently eight stories."
Noethlich suggested that Marrero may want to put independent living clients in the Spanish colonial revival structure, which is now dilapidated and has become a problem to renovators because of its narrow hallways and tiny rooms. Since assisted living clients have greater disabilities, Noethlich suggested Marrero may be thinking of new apartments too.
So far, Marrero hasn't mentioned demolition plans, but Noethlich said once the property is sold, "to be quite honest, once he owns the property, he can do whatever he wanted to do with the property."
Built during the 1920s Florida land boom, the hotel has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1990. It has been through several owners, who have attempted to renovate it and make it successful. Famous guests have included Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, Ali MacGraw and Mario Andretti. Ben Roman Victor started the first golf school in the world there. Harder Hall was purchased at auction by the city of Sebring in July 2007.
Zoning laws still apply, Noethlich said, but the question is being referred to City Attorney Bob Swaine though.
Marrero also wants to extend the due diligence period from 30 days to 150 days.
Noethlich said several questions raised by Marrero's counter offer have been referred to the city attorney including whether the city can legally hold a mortgage.
Also, Noethlich asked, would the city's $1.4 million mortgage be a true first mortgage, or would it would be a second or third mortgage if Marrero borrowed the $2 million cash purchase price, plus more money in construction loans?
A Harder Hall committee consisting of three council members and city staffers will consider Marrero's counter offer next week. The full five-member council will have the final decision.