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CLERMONT, FL-Atlanta developer Dick Candler has purchased Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s 32-acre site for an estimated $2.5 million and has been approved by city council to construct up to seven restaurants and at least a 100-room hotel on the dirt at State Road 50 and U.S. 27, one of the hottest commercially-hot intersections in Lake County.

Clermont is a bedroom community of 16,208 permanent residents, many of whom commute daily to jobs in Orlando, 25 miles east of Clermont and to Walt Disney World’s 30,000-acre enclave in Lake Buena Vista, FL, 45 miles southeast of Clermont.

Candler, president of Candler Development Co., couldn’t be reached at GlobeSt.com’s publication deadline to learn what restaurants will be built on the land; a tentative ground-breaking date; or what he paid Wal-Mart for the land.

But area industrial real estate brokers familiar with Clermont’s fast-developing commercial community, tell GlobeSt.com on condition of anonymity the price was at least $78,125 per acre or $1.80 per sf. Wal-Mart’s recorded price at Lake Country real estate records was $2.3 million or $71,875 per acre ($1.65 per sf) when the Bentonville, AR retailer bought the property in 1999.

Candler is using 14.7 acres of the 32 acres for his first-phase development, Clermont’s planning department confirms. The developer has not indicated plans or a timetable to the city for developing the balance of the tract.

After three years of negotiations, Wal-Mart and Clermont council members couldn’t cut a deal on the strategically located site. As Wal-Mart put the land up for sale earlier this year, Minneapolis-based Target moved in on a nearby location and won the city’s approval for a 187,000-sf, $15 million SuperTarget store.

Home Depot Inc. of Atlanta followed suit and has started site work on an $8 million, 129,000-sf, 30-acre transfer facility in the same general area as the Target store. Trammell Crow Co. is developing the structure for Home Depot.

Daryl M. Carter, president of Maury L. Carter & Associates Inc., Orlando, sees the entire State Road 50-U.S. 27 intersection area ripe for development of a mix of commercial, industrial, hospitality, retail and residential product.

“You always have to keep the environment in mind as you go, but the one overriding fact here is that residents continue to move into the area and the population mass continues to grow and draw from nearby locations as well,” Carter tells GlobeSt.com. “When you have that combination, it’s pretty hard to miss on putting up a good development.”

Solo Development Corp., owned by Daryl Carter and his father, Maury L. Carter, chairman, Maury L. Carter & Associates Inc., Orlando, plans to develop a 203,000-sf retail center on 40 acres at Hancock Road and State Road 50. Target would anchor the center.

Suzanne Pinel Hayes, head of CB Richard Ellis Inc.’s retail team in Orlando, represents Target.

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