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GROVELAND, FL-It was supposed to have been a done deal June 5 when Amway Corp. distributor and real estate investor Terry McEwen shook hands with a representative of Moose Look Holdings Ltd. at McEwen’s palatial 32,000-sf, 20-acre mansion, 28 miles west of Downtown Orlando.

The occasion was a final auction of Casa de la Loma (“House on the Hill”). Seventeen bidders had flown in from international locations with $100,000 participating checks in hand.

Instead of holding the auction, however, McEwan and the mysterious buyer’s rep struck a deal minutes before the event was to begin and the auction was called off.

The estimated price, according to area brokers intimate with the transaction: $6.4 million ($200 per sf) or about 2 ½ times the $2.66 million taxable value ($84 per sf) currently placed on the 10-year-old property by Lake Tax Collector Bob Mckee.

The transaction was supposed to close July 5, 30 days after the contract was signed. But the deal caved in when the buyer failed to find funding, brokers intimate with the transaction, tell GlobeSt.com on condition of anonymity.

McEwen, an Amway associate of Orlando Magic owner Richard DeVos, Amway’s co-founder, had asked $12 million ($375 per sf) for the mansion and the land in 1999, area brokers who have been following the listing’s progress, tell GlobeSt.com on condition of anonymity.

“The price has gone down because the economy has gone down,” a broker who once participated in the property’s marketing tells GlobeSt.com.

Another broker, equally knowledgeable in Lake County land transactions, tells GlobeSt.com on condition of anonymity the deal didn’t go through “because lenders since Sept. 11 are gun-shy in doing deals with foreign entities.”

Local bankers declined to comment on that observation or confirm that a freeze has been placed on loans to foreign buyers of local commercial or residential properties.

“That’s simply not accurate so long as the buyer is qualified and has the credentials we need to do a deal,” a representative of a major banking company tells GlobeSt.com on condition of anonymity.

In Moose Look Holdings’ case, however, those guidelines may not have been present, brokers tell GlobeSt.com. For one thing, Moose Look isn’t registered to do business in the county, state or even with the Securities and Exchange Commission, GlobeSt.com research finds. Bankers in St. Kitts don’t know the Moose Look name either.

The Lake Sentinel, a local newspaper, had reported in June that Moose Look’s chief executive is known only as Tari MacNamara, but GlobeSt.com couldn’t confirm that identity with any of its local brokerage or banking sources.

McEwen and his family couldn’t be reached for comment at GlobeSt.com’s publication deadline. Representatives of J.P. King Auction Co. of Gadsden, AL, which had promoted the property’s sale, also couldn’t be reached. That firm didn’t earn a commission fee when the sale failed to close.

Associates formerly close to McEwen told GlobeSt.com in a May 11 article he was selling the property to move to Colorado where he planned to enter an entrepreneurial-like business.

Moose Look purportedly wanted to buy the property to either lease it out or use it for its own corporate entertainment affairs, catering sources in Orange County familiar with the secretive transaction tell GlobeSt.com on condition of anonymity.

The property’s exterior could be mistaken for a class A luxury hotel. The mansion sits on a 90-foot hill overlooking Lake Lucy. It has a winding half-mile driveway off Lake County Road 565 near Groveland, FL, a rural town of 9,000 in south Lake County.

Inside, the estate has seven bedrooms; eight bathrooms; a 200-guest capacity ballroom; a commercial-like Scottish-themed pub; a three-hole Professional Golf Association-copied golf course; two commercial-sized gourmet kitchens; a 100-seat movie theater; a 3,200-sf swimming pool; regulation-size basketball, tennis and volleyball courts; and a climate-controlled wine cellar.

Local construction industry estimators say the mansion was built in 1991 for about $200 per sf or $6.4 million, the price it probably will sell for if a deal is done this year, area brokers tell GlobeSt.com on condition of anonymity.

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