Editor's Note: This article was originally published in 2012.
Last week, Bloomberg BusinessWeek came out with an interesting profile of The Villages developer Gary Morse. In their words:
Billionaire H. Gary Morse, 75, controls almost every facet of life at the Villages, one of the world’s largest retirement communities.
As I wrote in the most recent issue of The Villages Monthly last week, it's interesting that BusinessWeek has chosen to profile Morse (an extremely private person) at this time.
One reason I think they did it is that the obvious success of The Villages sticks out like a sore thumb. A community that sells more than 2,000 homes a year far outpacing its closest competitor anywhere in the country is going to make people just a little bit curious as to how they have accomplished this in a (to put it mildly) slumping real estate market.
The other reason has to do with politics. For those of you who don't own a television we are in an Presidential election year. Morse's political support and big contributions have put him on the radar. In the past he has supported several Republican politicians (Bush 41 and Bush 43 are both widely rumored as friends) and he is currently Presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s state finance co-chair.
It would be silly for me to do a complete line-by-line recap here when you can just click through to read the article. I've provided the link for you at the bottom of this post. When you get over there, read through some of the comments and be sure to click “Like” on the comment I left if you agree:
The profile talks about the Morse family history, their control over most of The Villages, and the wealth they have amassed over the years. There are some interesting insights in the article. I knew about the 147-foot yacht…but not the four jets. I must be slipping 🙂
Most of the article focuses on the “Special Taxing Districts”, the tax exempt bonds or CDD's as you will hear and see them referred to that the Morse family has tapped to both build The Villages (golf courses, water utilities, etc.) and the family bank account.
As you probably know, the IRS has taken quite a bit of interest in these transactions, even going so far as in 2009 requesting a settlement requiring a $16.5 million tax on the outstanding bonds, a refinance of $355 million worth of the bonds through “taxable” bonds, and calling for an end to these types of bond issues in the future. This is all still going back and forth between the districts and the IRS.
It's all very good reading for those who already live in The Villages, as well as those considering it for their next home.
Though I don't have the proverbial crystal ball, I've always just had a feeling that this issue will work out in The Villages favor. I don't see the IRS or anybody else pointing to a specific law that the districts have broken. It's more like, well, we “don't think” you should have done this, or been able to do that. The last quote in the article sort of backs me up on this:
“The IRS isn’t going to waste its time with the Villages,” Dan Carter, President of hedge fund ITG Holdings said in a phone interview. “There are going to be a lot of others that the IRS will have an easier time proving their point with. The Villages is more gray.”
Here's a link to the full text of the article:
(Update: This article used to be available for everyone to read, but unfortunately, you must now be a Bloomberg Professional Service Subscriber to read it.