Attorney and City Councilman Joe Graves is still in negotiations regarding the Jimmy Graves Sports Complex property directly across from Vero Beach High School. Indian River County commissioners on June 23 authorized the County Attorney to bring a lawsuit against Jimmy Graves Sports Complex, LLC, which they say is failing to honor a promise to restrict use of the 11.6 acres it owns to recreational and children’s activities. The property was sold in 2017 to Attorney Joe Graves, who named it after his late son, Jimmy. The County sold Graves the property with the understanding it would be limited to youth-oriented recreational activities or other charitable purposes. Many locals were concerned about residential or commercial development on the property since it is adjacent to the Vero Beach High School campus.
Recently, the County learned that Attorney Graves, who also sits on the Vero Beach City Council, planned on selling the property to real estate developers for more than $1 million and allegedly had discussed with the City changing its land use designation to allow multi-family housing. After the County attempted to negotiate with Graves, a lawsuit was approved 5-0 by County Commissioners.
On June 25, Joe Graves posted a long response to media stories about his desire to sell the property. In his post, he disputed a number of points made in the TCPalm news story, especially regarding deed restrictions. Although it was clear to all five County Commissioners and County Attorney Rheingold that the property would only be used for recreation or charity, no deed restrictions appeared in the contract. While apparently true and clearly an error, if allegations about working with a developer and discussing a change to the land use designation are true, it calls into question a good faith understanding the County had before selling the property to Graves.
The property had been on the market before Graves purchased it, but without these specific restrictions on development. The question now is if the county reacquires the property, will the recreation and charitable use restrictions still apply, which would limit its value, or could it be sold to a developer possibly for multi-family housing?