LONGWOOD, FL-Alaqua Mortgage Co. is the new owner today of Alaqua Country Club after buying the 16-year-old, 6,662-yard property at a Seminole County court public auction for $2.9 million, the amount it had previously loaned the club. Alaqua Mortgage was the only bidder.

The buyer plans to keep the club open and invest another $1 million in renovations that will include adding a casual dining restaurant in the 30,000-sf clubhouse, retail brokers familiar with the troubled property at 3060 Players Point tell GlobeSt.com. Longwood is about seven miles north of Downtown Orlando.

Heading the investor group that will manage and oversee the club’s operations are John Ritenour, a local insurance company executive; Stanley Sandefur and Ed Postal, both residents of the Alaqua community where homes are in the $600,000 to $3-million range.

The mortgage company foreclosed on the property in January after the club was unable to meet its monthly debt obligations. Members had purchased the club in the early 1990s from the developer, Westbury Alaqua, but never could put it on a break-even financial footing, according to court records.

The club has been sued six times over unpaid debts since 1999. Members tried to overcome the debt burden a few years ago by raising monthly association fees to the highest level in Central Florida. For example, Alaqua members, at one point, were paying $433 a month compared to $400 at Isleworth; $175 at nearby Alaqua Lakes; $135 to $300 at Heathrow; $295 at Lake Nona; and $33 at Bay Hill.

Pro golfers Gary Player and Karl Litten designed the course when it was built in 1988.

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