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WILDWOOD, FL-Rural Sumter County, 55 miles northwest of Downtown Orlando, is in line for a planned $200 million, 705,000-sf wallboard and lime manufacturing plant, the largest of its kind in Central Florida. A 100-person staff would operate the facility.

Sumter County officials have confirmed the pending deal but not the identity of the Brooksville, FL manufacturer which has purchased 80 acres within the city on the east side of U.S. 301, south of the Florida Turnpike. County staffers could not immediately disclose the land price to GlobeSt.com.

But area industrial real estate brokers tell GlobeSt.com on condition of anonymity the dirt at the key intersection of U.S. 301 and the Turnpike is going for at least $20,000 per acre (46 cents per sf), making the estimated land price $1.6 million.

“It’s a huge deal for any area, let alone a rural location such as Wildwood in Sumter County,” Tom D. Cook, senior broker, Carter & Associates Orlando, tells GlobeSt.com.

Wildwood city officials anticipate the plant would pay annual property taxes of about $1 million. The city currently collects $390,000 annually from its roll of residential and commercial property owners.

The unidentified manufacturer operates a lime plant in Apopka, FL, 17 miles northwest of Downtown Orlando and about 35 miles from the proposed wallboard/lime plant. A ground-breaking date for the plant is being worked out, area brokers tell GlobeSt.com.

Sumter officials hope the plant development deal clicks because the facility would emit minimal pollution. Florida’s Environmental Agency would have to sign off on the project before construction could start.

Laid-back Sumter’s population of 45,090, based on the last U.S. Census Bureau tally, is up from 40,426 in 1998 and 31,577 in 1990. County planning officials project the population will reach 90,000 by 2020, based on the steady stream of new residents arriving from the Northeast, the Midwest, metro Orlando and South Florida.

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