FLORENCE — City council members will consider approving a sale contract today with a Chinese company that wants to buy the former Florence Golf and Country Club.
Guizhou Shenqi Group offered to buy the city-owned former country club in December, with the intent of building an integrative health school in a partnership with the University of North Alabama. The company had made a similar offer two years ago but withdrew the offer after two former council members made it clear they did not like the possible partnership.
The company is offering $2.1 million for the 158-acre property, which includes a clubhouse. That is slightly more than the city paid for it in November 2009.
“The attorneys have worked together, and we feel comfortable going forward with the agreement,” Mayor Mickey Haddock said.
The contract includes a lease agreement in which the city would continue to use the clubhouse as a senior center and offices for the Street and Recycle departments. Haddock said the lease calls for the city to pay property taxes for one year on the 48 acres where the clubhouse is located. Later, city officials must make a decision on whether to build a senior center or renovate an existing building.
Council President Dick Jordan said the head of the company, Zhang Zhiting, may be anticipating the preventive health efforts that are included in the Affordable Healthcare Act.
“This has the potential of what the (Retirement Systems of Alabama) project did for this community 10 years ago,” he said, referring to a partnership between governments in Colbert and Lauderdale counties and RSA that included construction of the Marriott Shoals Hotel and Spa and two Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail courses.
“Think of the people who are going to come here to see it and how it works,” Jordan said.
Haddock said Zhang will be in Florence soon, and could sign the contract then. The company will have a 90-day due diligence period after the contract is signed, he said.
Also on tonight’s meeting agenda is a request from Yum restaurant to expand seating to the sidewalk in front of its Court Street facility. Jordan said the council approved an ordinance two years ago to allow outdoor restaurant seating in the downtown business district.
The council meets at 5 p.m. in the City Hall auditorium on Pine Street. The work session begins at 3 p.m.
Robert Palmer can be reached at 256-740-5720 or robert.palmer@TimesDaily.com.
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