Tell the Truth about Harbor Bay Club

Ron Cowan’s Harbor Bay Isle Associates (HBIA) continues its push to move the Harbor Bay Club. The association’s recent campaign at City Hall implies that Harbor Bay Neighbors (HBN) opposes the building of a new Harbor Bay Club. However, HBN is on record as supporting a new club. 

The difference is that HBN insists that HBIA either renovates or rebuilds the club at its current location — within the Community of Harbor Bay Isle so it will continue to serve the residents it was specifically designated to serve. Moving an amenity that residents and their kids can now walk or bike to along safe lagoon paths to a parcel three miles away that requires a car to access just doesn’t make sense for the community. 

HBIA says this is all about a new club; it is not. It’s about Ron Cowan squeezing millions of dollars out of a waterfront property by selling it to a developer to build more homes. This would leave residents to deal with the consequences of more traffic, higher demand on public services, a smaller commercial tax base and an inaccessible recreational facility.

HBIA says the current club is unsustainable, but it’s not. Other clubs are thriving. How could a properly managed club at this location with fees at the current level not be a cash cow?

HBIA says that renovating the current club in stages is impossible; this type of renovation is possible and HBIA’s claim defies logic. How much infrastructure is there to two wooden buildings and 20 paved tennis courts? Professional architects know how to renovate in-place in ways that that are both financially and operationally feasible. They do it all the time.

HBIA says they’ll go out of business if they can’t build a new club in the business park. They won’t. Cowan will not default on that $7 million loan and walk away from a profitable business. 

Has HBIA proven any of what they’ve said? No, they have not. They just assume you’ll believe their jargon. By contrast, throughout this controversy HBN has responded with evidence that:

 

  • Harbor Bay Club was built specifically to serve the residents of Harbor Bay Isle. City staff has confirmed that Harbor Bay Club was traded for 44 acres of open space, which Cowan then used to build additional homes. As residents of the Harbor Bay planned unit development (PUD), we are entitled to this recreational space.
  • To this day HBIA’s affiliate, Harbor Bay Realty, touts the club as a valuable amenity to sell homes. We wholeheartedly agree! That’s why we are fighting so hard to keep the club where it is. Disrupting a completed PUD is unfair and unjust to those who bought homes and built lives around the inherent protections of a PUD. Some may call HBIA’s tactic a bait-and-switch; we call it fraud. 
  • Ron Cowan gave homebuyers investing in his properties a document saying that he could “sell or transfer ownership” of the club. Nowhere does it say that he can move it.
  • Ron Cowan has the financial resources to renovate the club at its current location without fear of going out of business or closing operations during renovation. Doubters can view the loan documents on the HBN website, http://harborbayneighbors.wordpress.com.

It’s time to take the blinders off and see this scheme for what it is: a developer who is once again attempting to capitalize on restricted-use property and do harm to our community. 

HBIA and the city negotiated a deal to provide Harbor Bay residents with designated recreational space on the existing club parcel. As a community, we must band together and hold them to this agreement.

Mark Theiding belongs to the Harbor Bay Club and supports Harbor Bay Neighbors.