FLORENCE — The City Council on Tuesday formalized a sale agreement with a Chinese company to buy the former Florence Golf and Country Club for $2.1 million.
It's now up to the company, Guizhou Shenqi Group, to sign the agreement. The company's chairman, Zhang Zhiting, is expected to be in Florence by early April. He offered to buy the 158-acre property in December.
The 6-0 vote was taken with little discussion during the regular meeting of the council. Council President Dick Jordan said it shows the city's commitment to economic development and to the University of North Alabama, which will partner with the company to teach integrative health to graduate students. The company plans to build a teaching facility on the property for graduate-level students.
City attorney Bill Musgrove III said the sales contract is a routine one that allows the company a 90-day due diligence period after it signs the contract.
Councilman Blake Edwards asked Musgrove if there were any special legal requirements the city must meet to sell the land to a Chinese company. Musgrove said Alabama "has no restriction on foreign nationals owning property."
"This is a very straight-forward agreement," Musgrove said. "The council has already rezoned it to R-B (residential-business)."
Jordan said the city conducted an environmental survey of the property two years ago, which should speed up Guizhou Shenqi's due diligence process.
The city bought the land in November 2009 for a just more than $2 million with the intent of using a small portion of the land to expand the adjacent sanitary landfill. The landfill has since been closed to municipal solid waste and the club house converted to city offices and a senior citizens center.
The contract calls for the city to use and maintain the property for a year while the offices and senior center are relocated. The city will pay property taxes on the 48 acres where the club house is located.
Guizhou Shenqi will teach an integrative health curriculum that trains professionals in wellness and preventative health tactics such as stress management, nutrition, exercise science and mental health. The Alabama Commission on Higher Education approved the curriculum in September 2012.
The initial classes, beginning in August, will be all domestic students. The classes will be taught on the UNA campus. Beginning in the 2014 school year, international students are expected to be admitted, and construction of a teaching facility is expected to get under way on the property.
Robert Palmer can be reached at 256-740-5720 or robert.palmer@TimesDaily.com.
Staff Writer Jennifer Edwards contributed to this report.