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ORLANDO-Had it chosen to put the hallowed dirt on the market, the city of Orlando could have grossed a quick $10 million on the 100-acre Ben White Raceway real estate in the northwest industrial quadrant, area brokers tell GlobeSt.com.

Instead, the city opted to develop the former harness racing track as a $4.3 million recreational park which broke ground this week at Lee Road and North Orange Blossom Trail (US 441). The park opens in 2002 as part of a $30 million public park-building initiative.

“This is a judgment call the mayor and the council had to make as they listened to area residents for their takes on the highest and best use for the land,” Robin L. Webb, vice president/managing broker, Arvida Realty Services Commercial Division, Winter Park, FL, tells GlobeSt.com. “Developers, understandably, don’t see it that way.”

Some brokers feel the city could have grossed $100,000 per acre ($2.30 per sf) for the turf. Other brokers tell GlobeSt.com on condition of anonymity their recent sales show the dirt could have commanded $200,000 or $4.60 per sf for a $20 million windfall to the city.

The city bought the land in 1947 for an estimated $10,000 per acre (23 cents per sf) or $1 million, according to longtime brokers who work the northwest industrial sector. But city real estate records could not confirm those numbers for GlobeSt.com at this publication’s deadline.

Ben White Raceway, named for noted sulky driver of his day, is now Trotters Park. The city envisions a $2.5 million YMCA center and a 20-acre equestrian training facility on the property. Freedom Ride Inc., a nonprofit group that works with handicapped riders, will operate the facility.

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