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Palm Coast's Conservatory Golf Community Unveils its New Vision

Luxury Team of Florida and Front Door Communities rolled out 5 builders with home/lot packages starting in the $300's with new club membership options and early bird incentives.

By Toby Tobin
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Palm Coast, FL, – June 25, 2012 – Luxury Team of Florida and Front Door Communities rolled out five builders offering home/lot packages starting in the $300's, with new club membership options and early bird incentives to an invitation only gathering of about 200 guests at The Conservatory, in Palm Coast, on Friday. The event was the formal kickoff of the repositioned community which features 340 home sites surrounding a Tom Watson signature golf course and 44,000 square foot clubhouse.
Luxury Team of Florida will have agents staffing a sales office within the clubhouse. The designated builders, who have committed to have models open by the end of the year, are:
  • Bellagio Custom Homes
  • Charles Rinek Construction, Inc.
  • Gold Coast Homes
  • Luxury Builders, Inc.
  • Arthur Rutenberg Homes
The Conservatory was originally envisioned by Bobby Ginn as a luxury golf community, surrounding a Tom Watson signature golf course and 44,000 square foot clubhouse. In 2005, 340 lots were sold for prices between $329,900 and $529,900. Four builder models (million-dollar plus) and one private residence were completed. So too were the magnificent golf course and clubhouse. Then the real estate bubble burst.
The market is finally signaling the beginning of a recovery, but the original Conservatory vision needed to be realigned to the market reality; a community of more modest homes. That's hard to do once all the lots have sold and the infrastructure and amenities are built. Architectural and landscaping guidelines had to be adjusted downward as did the "one size fits all" Hammock Beach club and golf memberships. The Property Owners Association (POA) assessments had to be reevaluated too.
Front Door and Luxury Team assembled a substantial inventory of lots by offering the present owners premiums above current prices, to be paid when the house/lot package closes. Without new construction, prices would likely remain stuck at current levels.
Conservatory house/lot purchasers can choose a Conservatory Golf Club membership with an initiation fee of $20,000 and monthly dues of $375. The first 25 buyers will receive a waiver of the $20,000 initiation fee and two years dues. The first five will receive a third year of dues. Of course, they could choose to join the Hammock Beach Club at either the club or full golf membership levels. (The Conservatory membership does not include Hammock Beach Club or Ocean Course golf privileges.)
It was nearly seven years ago when Ginn sold the 340 Conservatory lots for a total of $141,000,000. I have chronicled the story in dozens of GoToby.com articles. In retrospect, the original Conservatory lot buyers paid substantially more than intrinsic value for the 340 lots. Unable to flip their investment, more than half the original buyers abandoned their mortgages. Foreclosures and tax deed sales eventually brought lot prices below $20,000, clearly as far below intrinsic value as the original prices were above it.
After the Savings and Loan (S&L) debacle of the 1980s, a comedian joked that he had just purchased a new toaster and got a free S&L. Now, buyers can purchase a Conservatory building lot for the original price and get a "free" house. Who could have predicted that? But the market is what it is.
I expect club initiation fee and dues waivers offered to the first 25 building contracts will spark construction beyond the committed builder models. Evidence of new construction, a resurgent housing market and lack of available existing home inventory locally should all work in favor of a successful re-launch. With a view towards risk vs. value, I give it thumbs up.
reader comments
Reply to Nate
Posted by Toby
Nov 16, 2013, 3:23 pm
I'm posting your comments because they represent the feelings of many who were hoodwinked during the bubble. I believe that where there is smoke, there is fire. The lines of legality and morality were crossed or stretched very thin in many developments during that era. I have very little faith in the civil justice system's ability to come to the truth so I don't look for resolution there.

Having said that, we should think of what the next step should be. I think the effort to re-launch the Conservatory is an honest effort, unless you can show otherwise. The property will never be worth what the original buyers paid, especially if you include carrying costs.

It's time to move on. Do you have an alternative solution that would ''save'' the community, promote construction of homes that people will actually occupy, and return at least some money to the present lot owners?

Greed is not necessarily a bad thing. I highly recommend you go to YouTube and search for Milton Friedman on Greed. You will find an excellent video of Milton's response to a Phil Donahue comment vilifying greed. It's like a classic movie or favorite song. I have bookmarked the link and listen to it at least once a month. Please watch it at least once.

Yes, for each sale Front Door will receive money. So will Luxury Team, the builders, their employees and some outside realtors. But the City of Palm Coast will too. It will charge roughly $16,000 for impact, permitting, inspection, and water/sewer connection fees for each building permit. Friedman asks whether, somehow, political self interest is more noble than economic self interest.
new vision
Posted by ben okelley
Jun 27, 2012, 2:29 pm
Toby, thanks for all your many years of
keeping us property owners informed about
the CONSERVATORY . I paid cash for my
island green lot with my IRA retirement
account and have paid all dues taxes and
POA fees to date, and I do not expect to
get my money back.
I would just like to say that the NEW VISION seems to be a step in the right
direction to at least getting some folks
living there and thus some rebound in prices. I think the builders,realtors
etc are all entitled to a profit.

Please continue your good reporting
Ben
Reply to Toby
Posted by Nate
Jun 27, 2012, 2:29 pm
Thank you for posting my comments, Toby; I however disagree with your comment.
One of the main things wrong in this world is lack of morals and values whether in Palm Coast or anywhere else in the US.
We were not one of the dummies who fell for the LA/Ginn extravaganzas, but now are having to live with the consequences of LA not fulfilling their promises to us.
Greed does not fall into any category that is acceptable no matter the situation.
Repeat of Ginn Scam
Posted by Nate
Jun 25, 2012, 9:16 pm
If anyone interested in this newest scam, I would hope they do their research prior to moving forward.
This is just a repeat of LA/Ginn rip offs of 2005/2006.
Desperation by FrontDoor/LA makes this scenario laughable.
Pure greed!

 
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Don "Toby" Tobin is a licensed real estate professional affiliated with Grand Living Realty. Toby is a member of the Flagler County Association of Realtors®, the Florida Association of Realtors, Enterprise Flagler, Flagler Home Builders Association, and the National Association of Realtors.

GoToby.com proivdes real estate news, commentary, and analysis for Palm Coast and Flagler Country Florida, as well as Realtor® referrals and consultation to buyers, sellers, and developers.