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LEESBURG, FL-They’re still playing peekaboo on formally identifying the seller, but city commissioners, nevertheless, are signing a letter of intent this week to sell a 200-acre industrial parcel for $1.6 million or $8,000 per acre (18 cents per sf). Buyer and seller have 180 days to sign a formal contract.

The buyer is believed to be Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which plans to erect the second largest distribution center in Central Florida–a $50-million, 1.2-million sf complex at Country Road 470 and the Florida Turnpike in south Lake County. The site is 30 miles west of Downtown Orlando.

Comparable dirt at established Orlando area business parks offering full utility and fire protection services would be at least $100,000 per acre or $2.30 per sf, according to area land brokers.

Carter and Burgess, a Fort Worth, TX-based consulting firm, is also taking a $4.6 million economic incentive offer from the city to the buyer. The incentives include a $2.4 million property tax exemption on site improvements for ten years; and $1 million for a city-built well and tank for fire protection.

The city anticipates receiving a robust return for its money. Annual property taxes paid by the new landowner would total $247,500 to the city; $260,150 to the county; and $480,810 to the Lake County school district.

The city also anticipates the buyer will create 600 immediate jobs and another 600 positions over the next three years at an average wage of $11 per hour. Another 1,500 jobs are expected to open up from companies and expanding businesses servicing the center.

Additional funds or exemptions from the state could boost the value of the incentive package to $6.4 million. The earliest construction start for the distribution center is first quarter 2001 with completion in 2002.

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