Country Club: City Must Help Local Businesses

According to the City, Coral Gables Country Club, operated by Coral Gables Grand, LLC., finds itself in financial trouble advising their landlord, the City of Coral Gables, of inability to pay August’s rent. On March 9th, 2020, the State of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued a State of Emergency directing the temporary closures of restaurant dine-in and event/banquet halls and fitness centers among other non-essential businesses. The Coral Gables Country Club’s revenues are primarily driven from operating events and conferences.

In reviewing the Sales Tax Reports, the City was able to assess that the Country Club’s operations have been affected more significantly by the COVID-19 health emergency than other City tenants. In August of 2020, the Country Club informed the city of their inability to pay rent.

The Country Club has negotiated a possible amendment to their lease agreement if ratified by the city commission, deferring rent and creating a payment plan. The amendment calls deferment for 100% of rent due for August 1 and September 1 and 50% of rent due October 1, November 1, and December 1, 2020 ($95,650.31) (the “Deferred Rent”) and waives any late charges, fees, and penalties provided for in the Lease during the deferment period.

In addition, the Amendment to Lease will also provide the Tenant with an eight (8)-month Deferred Rent Repayment Plan (January-August 2021) during which the Tenant will pay the Landlord monthly rent pursuant to the Lease and will also make monthly installments toward the Deferred Rent.

There are questions about how the Country Club has handled deposits for events and memberships to the fitness center during the pandemic, something commissioners have asked staff to investigate and report back before voting on this lease amendment.

Update: Gables Insider spoke with Country Club operator, Anthony Di Donato and he confirmed that all parties who placed deposits for events have been allowed to postpone to a future date.

In addition, Di Donato said that actually what they are asking for is the city to do the right thing and help its businesses. The club’s business model has been temporarily affected by COVID-19 shutdowns by the Governor and County Mayor. The majority of their rent stems from the money-making rental of ballrooms for all sorts of events.

Di Donato says they used to have 20 events a month on average, now they are seeing 2-3 a month. “We do not have financial trouble, we are however trying to be fiscally prudent and we just don’t expect our ballrooms to be filling up anytime soon. ” said Di Donato.

The long term plan is that one day the country club can be operating at optimal capacity, something that may not be possible in 2021. The Country Club is certain that that day will come, but they just don’t know when and are asking the city to do the right thing and adjust the rent due.

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11 thoughts on “Country Club: City Must Help Local Businesses

  1. I have been a member at the gym for over six years. I believe it is reasonably priced and convenient for Coral Gables residents. I would be very sad should it have to close because of economic reasons. City should support local businesses and residents.

  2. Several good comments especially Robert Burr. If anyone thinks this pandemic will be over anytime soon, you will be in for a surprise. All reports by many organizations have stated that when a vaccine is available, it will be mid-year before it may reach us. Therefore the city will need to have another plan and perhaps finding someone else to run the food business might be the answer.

    Also, they should take a look at the salaries of the management staff and see if they have taken at least a 25% reduction. If they have not, that means we as CG residents are paying for their probably lavish lifestyle

  3. The City is a corrupt hot mess, paving over every inch of green space to the sidewalks of U.S. 1, changing zoning from mixed to industrial to try to force people out of their homes within the city limits. The amount of concrete downtown and there in is grotesque. Who wants to pay $800k for an 88 sq.ft. apt building with $2,500 maintenance fees. I guess people who move from other parts of the world. Then there is the absurd remodeling of Miracle Mile that occurs every 13 years, tying up the road, ruining the businesses, especially the boutiques, bridal and men’s clothes. Between being put out of business for the super-sized concrete sidewalks that nobody uses besides skateboarders, and covid, many businesses have folded for good. If you want to put a table on the sidewalk you have to lease then from the Gables and kick back instead of buying your own. What a racket. I’ve never seen anything this bad in all of my years in the Gables.

  4. The same issue is front and center for Burger Bob’s which is an iconic fixture. Coral Gables issued its own guidelines that made it difficult for Burger Bob to operate. I believe the city closed the Granada Golf Course, not the Governor.. Hence it was the Landlord, the City of Coral Gables, that interfered with Burger Bob’s ability to operate. When a landlord causes a construction eviction they do not have the right to collect rent for that time period.

  5. I support Gary Schneider’s comment. The city should provide a Silver Star Membership plan for Seniors (well Priced) also, provide a higher-priced Membership for residents with Family and children.
    I am sure the residents will subsidize a great portion of the cost. Let the owners of ” Off the Mile ” Restaurant operate the restaurant in the club. They offer great food quality and they are reasonably priced. Put new management to run the operation, please…!!! Thank You for the opportunity to opine…
    Rafael Santa Maria
    3025 Segovia Street
    Coral Gables, Florida 33134

  6. this “country club” doesn’t even have a steam room. i looked into it. it’s pathetic and that restaurant liberty cafe might just possibly be the worst-run place I’ve ever been to..

  7. The reality is that the club’s revenue shortfalls will never be made up so deferring rent might not buy them what they need. If the city evaluates that they can once again become a viable tenant, maybe rent should be reduced (not deferred) proportionate to their revenue reduction until their business can return to normal. Otherwise the city may lose the tenant with little prospect of replacing them.

  8. Obviously the City needs to help them with deferred rent and and a reasonable, workable payback period that they will be able to perform. The restaurant, catering and events industries are in serious financial troubles and will be for some time. COVID 19 will be with us throughout next year at least. The public at large are not willing to go to events or restaurants with large crowds. EJM.

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