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ORLANDO-Reclusive British-born billionaire Joseph C. Lewis has done it again. The Orlando investor and his international associates, Tavistock Allan, are sitting on the last big block of immediately developable Downtown dirt. They paid Saudi Arabian-owned Jaymont USA Inc. $7.6 million or $3.32 million per acre ($76.18 per sf) for the largely-vacant 2.29-acre mix of office and retail structures on north Orange Avenue.

GlobeSt.com reported the transaction Dec. 4 before the deal was recorded at Orange County real estate offices. Brokers familiar with the transaction had estimated the deal would be done for about $100 per sf or a total $10 million. The recorded $76.18 per-sf price is in line with recent dirt sales in the central business district. The buyers are considering various projects for the site, about the size of 1 ¼ football fields.

The property housed the F.W. Woolworth and McCrory department stores from the 1950s through the 1980s, then hosted a mix of retail ventures as shoppers flocked to the newly-opened department sites in the suburbs. City planners for years have bemoaned the loss of a major department store in the central business district.

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