Florida Keys Country Club, formerly Sombrero Beach Country Club, has a backer. Index Investment Group has formed a partnership with Peter Rosasco and Bob Leef to enhance the property with $60 million worth of upgrades — including a redesigned golf course, a 110 hotel rooms, 15 villas and a new marina. When the improvements are complete, the 120-acre property will function more like a resort. The partnership is registered under the name Florida Keys Resort LLC.

“We’ve been searching for the right partner to develop the property,” said Rosasco, “and Index is a publicly traded, multi-national corporation.”

Index already has a vested interest in the Keys. It developed the 48-unit Little Torch Cottages last year and is also a passive equity investor in the Tarpon Harbour project, a 106-unit rental housing community, in Marathon in March.

“Index is on the forefront of providing meaningful investments throughout Florida and we are extremely excited about this unique opportunity to create a real active life destination in one of the most popular tourist areas in the state,” said Bjarne Borg, CEO of Index.

Rosasco said the partnership will not affect the conditional use and developers agreement that has been approved by the City of Marathon in July.

“We may tweak a few things, such as plans for the marina, but it’s essentially the same plan the city has approved,” Rosasco said.

Florida Keys Resort LLC will finish out the season by completing the final drawings and mechanicals it will need to pull permits, Rosasco said, with hopes of starting Phase 1 construction over the summer.

The first phase will be to renovate the east nine holes and to relocate their tennis and maintenance facilities. In addition; infrastructure, roads, entrances and the like, will be included in Phase I so as to allow the town houses to be constructed.

The plan to redevelop the country club has been in the works for five years. As club membership dwindled from a high of almost 300 members to about 50, the club directors approached Rosasco about developing a better business model.

Marathon philanthropist Stanley Switlik built the country club. Construction started in 1956 with the 18-hole golf course and the club officially opened in 1960. In 1966, he sold the club to a group of members and residents for $250,000 and it incorporated as a nonprofit.

Florida Keys Country Club is one of only three golf courses in the Florida Keys. The golf course will be available for public play with player-card memberships available. The new restaurant and the spa will also be open to the public. The development is expected to take several years to complete.

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