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HOWEY-IN-THE-HILLS, FL-After three decades of hosting some of the world’s top golfers and corporate chiefs, owner Nick Buecher’s landmark Mission Inn Golf and Tennis Resort is introducing the first large residential component to the rural 1,000-acre property, 40 miles northwest of Downtown Orlando.

Construction is under way on the first 119-unit single-family phase along the championship Las Colinas golf course. Lots for villas start at $35,000. Estate home sites start at $153,000.

Sales to date total $10 million, equating to a quarter of the first-phase inventory. About 800 units are planned.

“There will also be some condominium development” and construction of a third golf course over the nine-year buldout period, Tom Line, broker-developer at Mission Inn Real Estate, tells GlobeSt.com.

The entry into residential marks a new development period for the commercial/retail/recreational property.

Buecher, a former salesman for Morton Salt Co. in Wilmette, IL and later founder/chairman of the former Packing House By-Products Co. in Chicago, bought the Lake County property’s original hotel, the 75-room, 45-year-old Hotel Floridan, in 1964.

By 1971, Beucher and his family had transformed the aging asset into a trophy 200-room resort. Three restaurants, two lounges and Marina del Rey, the property’s nautical center on Lake Harris, were added over the years.

Golf course architect Charles E. Clarke of the legendary Troon course in Scotland laid out Mission’s inn’s first green, the 18-hole El Campeon, in 1926.

The Howey-in-the-Hills community, with a current permanent population of 993, was born in 1916 when Illinois entrepreneur William J. Howey purchased 60,000 acres of prime rolling land for $3 million or about $50 per acre (less than one cent per sf) between County Roads 48 and 33, five miles south of Leesburg, FL, according to various published accounts.

Howey sold off the acreage and his citrus holdings, then went broke during the stock market crash of 1929. The crash was followed by one of the worst freezes in Florida history.

Howey’s 60,000 acres today, with the Mission Inn Golf and Tennis Resort as its centerpiece, would be valued at about $6 billion or $100,000 per acre ($2.30 per sf), area land brokers intimate with Lake County commercial property values tell GlobeSt.com on condition of anonymity.

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