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Updated: 05/19/2017 08:30:01AM

Council approves Harder Hall sale extension

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SEBRING — The Sebring City Council gave prospective buyers of Harder Hall another four months to close on the sale, but not without a twist to previous extensions.

South Florida Senior Living, the prospective buyer, offered to increase the existing $400,000 deposit to $600,000 in order to delay closing on the property to Sept. 28. It was the fifth requested extension.

Ultimately South Florida Senior Living wants to transform the historic hotel into an independent living center for seniors and add another building for assisted living for seniors.

The major reason for seeking the delay is because the National Park Service, which deals with historic buildings, raised some objections to the design for an assisted living center, said Matthew Musgrave, executive project director.

Musgrave said that plans had to be redrawn, but ultimately the new design will reduce the project cost by $1 million.

Once South Florida Senior Living closes on the purchase, the deposit money would go toward the purchase price of $2.5 million. If South Florida Senior Living fails to close, the city would keep the money.

The difference from previous extensions on closing is that the Sebring City Council decided only $150,000 of the latest $200,000 offered would go toward the deposit. The city will keep the remaining $50,000 to pay for ongoing city expenses regarding Harder Hall.

Councilman Scott Stanley cast the only vote against the extension. Stanley wanted the city to keep half of the $200,000 for expenses.

Council members also talked about having South Florida Senior Living put up the $200,000, but also add $25,000 that the city would keep for expenses. But that option was never voted on by the City Council.

Musgrave said he hates having to seek more extensions.

“It is always my hope this is the final extension,” Musgrave said.

He said South Florida Senior Living remains committed to the project.

“Our commitment is very strong to this project,” he said.

Harder Hall was built in the 1920s. At one time, it was part of a popular resort that included a golf course. But the building has remained vacant for more than 20 years.

The City Council also approved vacating a development agreement regarding land that was originally envisioned to be a second phase to Majestic Cove.

Plans are for the land to be used for single-family residential development.

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