A group of Chicago investors last week closed on a deal to buy the golf course, restaurant and all the land at St. James Golf Resort, east of Carrabelle.
MJM Carrabelle LLC, out of Cary, Illinois, paid out $3.25 million for the entire complex, according to paperwork in Property Appraiser Rhonda Skipper’s office.
MJM bought the property from Eddie Clark, from Dallas, Texas, who continues to own one of the 24 condos involved in the sale. The others that MJM purchase remain unsold.
In addition to the golf course, pro shop and Crooked River Grill, MJM obtained 57 single family lots, all vacant, as well as pads for 60 more condos.
“We see a tremendous potential in the area. It’s a beautiful area,” said John Green, MJM’s managing partner. “We think there are opportunities to build.”
Green said he and his partners are all real estate people, and own no other golf courses. They’ll keep the name St. James Bay, and they have brought in a sports management firm KemperSports, out of Northbrook, Illinois, to manage the golf resort.
“St. James Bay Golf Resort has remained a popular destination for nearly 15 years,” said Green. “We look forward to working with KemperSports and implementing their best practices to enhance the experience for our guests at the resort.”
The 18-hole championship golf course is certified as an Audubon International Certified Signature Sanctuary, due to the course’s commitment to environmentally-efficient agronomy practices. The Robert Walker-designed golf course, a par-72, 6,600-yard public course, provides strategic options throughout the bay front layout. Built in 2003, the golf course remains one of the top golf courses in the state and was ranked in 2016 by Golf Advisor as no. 19 on its list of the best courses in Florida.
Green said the market has strengthened to the point MJM will step up marketing the 23 recently remodeled condos which are two and three-bedroom units with kitchen and private pool access.
Green said Nola Tolbert and her staff, as well as the other employees, will all remain in place. “She’s about the best chef I’ve ever met,” he said. “Everybody’s still there, no changes.”
He said he and his partners are considering opening the restaurant on Mondays. “We’re going to look real hard at that,” he said. “It’s a destination restaurant that happens to sit in a golf course club house.
“We are positive we’re going to see more golfing activity,” Green said.
Green said a broker in the Chicago area invited him down to see St. James Bay in November, and he was smitten. “It’s a beautiful area, a beautiful location,” he said. “I fell in love with it the first time I saw it.”
Green said the step up in commercial development in Tallahassee and Crawfordville helped convince MJM that this was the place to be.
“It doesn’t surprise me, I think it’s been a long time coming,” he said. “Especially for the price you can acquire housing in Carrabelle, compared to Panama City and Destin.”
For the time being, Green said, MJM has set modest goals for selling the condos and single-family lots.
“I don’t think it’s going to be explosive at all,” he said. “We think it’s probably we could get half a dozen by next year.”