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FORT MYERS, FL-In one of the largest, privately negotiated land sales in Florida’s history, local developer O.J. Buigas has purchased 2,500 prime acres–about four square miles–of undeveloped agribusiness land through his Alanda Ltd. company from Agri-Insurance Co. Ltd., a subsidiary of La Belle, FL-based Alico Inc., for $30 million or $12,000 per acre (28 cents per sf).

The completion of title transfers on 2,060 acres representing $20.1 million will occur before the end of next month, Alico says in a prepared statement. The remaining acreage representing $7.2 million ($18,000 per acre or 41 cents per sf) will be transferred by the end of December 2002. The sale is expected to generate gains of $25 million.

The original contract was announced in May, modified in October and modified once again for the final sale. The land, currently a combination of cattle grazing range land and timber, is located just east of I-75 between Southwest Florida International Airport and Florida Gulf Coast University.

“This is one of the largest tracts of land ever sold in the state,” Buigas tells GlobeSt.com. “I believe it will be one of the most significant factors driving the economy of Southwest Florida in the next decade.”

Buigas says the development of the land will consist of four components: airport related commerce, highway related commercial development, warehouse and distribution, and a high tech research and development park connected to the university.

Buigas says the R&D park will be the first component to be developed. It includes 20 acres that he is donating to FGCU, and will have a campus in the center of it. Buigas says he expects it to take about 18 months to obtain all the necessary permits before construction can begin.

Alico, one of the state’s largest holding companies whose assets comprise undeveloped land, citrus groves, agricultural products and residential developments, has now sold all but about 500 acres of the original 12,000 acres it owned around FGCU.

Ben Hill Griffin III is chairman of Alico. Griffin Hall at Florida Gulf Coast University, built in 1997, is named after Griffin. His late father, Ben Hill Griffin Jr., founded the family’s cattle, real estate and citrus empire in the early 1900s.

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