A recent vote by the Killearn Homeowners Association (KHA) has made it a real possibility that a local group will soon own the struggling Killearn Golf & Country Club.
Based on discussions with interested parties, the unanimous KHA vote was required to amend the terms of a settlement agreement which was signed by the KHA and Barton Tuck – the current owner of the golf course – several years ago.
The vote has cleared the way for Killearn Golf Properties, LLC (KGP) to move forward with their plan to purchase the course from Mr. Tuck who has owned the club since 1987.
The group, which was registered with the state of Florida in August 2019 and is headed up by local businessman Jimmy Graganella, has been in negotiations with Tuck over the last two months.
Graganella, who grew up in Tallahassee and graduated from FSU, owns several Tallahassee based insurance companies that employees approximately 300 people. He is also the owner of Mom & Dad’s Italian Restaurant and a part owner of the Blue Halo. Both restaurants are located in Bannerman Crossings and employee about 100 people.
Why did Graganella get involved with purchasing the club?
“I met my wife at the club, so keeping the club alive means something to me and I did not see anyone else stepping up to make sure the club survived,” said Graganella.
Graganella said after the purchase it will be important add new members as soon as possible. Also, the new ownership structure will provide opportunities for equity investment by members that will generate credits for the investors at the club.
KGP representative Ron Tolliver told Tallahassee Reports that Barton Tuck was sent an agreement containing the terms and conditions for the purchase of Killearn Country Club approximately ten days ago.
Tolliver said he does not anticipate any significant issues to arise and is working toward a closing by year’s end.
Tolliver said after the purchase “the plan is to focus on membership retention and growth. Our goal is to remake Killearn into Tallahassee’s most desirable club for golf, tennis, swim, fitness and social activities.”
The Killearn Golf & Country course has been in a state of decline for a number of years. However, the decline appeared to accelerate shortly after the Tallahassee City Commission voted in April 2017 to allow Mr. Tuck to develop part of the North Course as a way to secure the financial resources to upgrade the 50 year-old facilities.
What followed the city commission vote were broken promises and controversy.
Members became disillusioned with Tuck’s failure to make improvements. Tuck blamed the lack of movement on disgruntled Killearn Estates residents who filed lawsuits that took years to resolve.
There were the federal indictments of local officials which included local businessman J.T. Burnette. Burnette was an important part of the development deal.
And then, the Southwood golf course was sold to a group of local owners for approximately $1,000,000. The sale price impacted the value of Killearn and further complicated the proposed redevelopment.
Ironically, during Mr. Tuck’s move to redevelop the property back in 2014, a group of Killearn Estates residents attempted to purchase the club, but were turned down.
Now it looks like local ownership will get a chance to revive a club that was once a yearly stop for the PGA Tour from 1969-1989, playing host to the likes of Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino and Chi Chi Rodriguez.