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ORLANDO-As land deals go, the 28-acre, estimated $2.66 million transaction Atlanta developer Dick Candler has going with Wal-Mart Stores Inc. isn’t a blockbuster.

But Candler Development Co. can’t close the deal unless Wal-Mart sells or donates right-of-way land to the city of Clermont for immediate road-widening work in one of the hottest commercial/residential pockets in Central Florida. The site is 25 miles west of Downtown Orlando.

Candler couldn’t be reached at GlobeSt.com publication deadline. A Wal-Mart representative at the company’s Arkansas headquarters tells GlobeSt.com the retailer doesn’t comment on pending real estate deals.

Lake County real estate records show Wal-Mart paid $2.3 million or $82,143 per acre ($1.89 per sf) for the 28 acres in 1998. Candler has a contract for a price that area brokers tell GlobeSt.com is in the $95,000-per-acre range or $2.18 per sf for a total $2.66 million.

Comparable land 25 years ago, when oranges and grapefruit grew on it, was selling for $5,000 per acre (11 cents per sf), according to Lake County real estate records.

The Wal-Mart land is at State Road 50 and U.S. 27, one of the hottest commercial/industrial intersections in Lake County. The puzzling aspect of the Candler deal with Wal-Mart is why the developer didn’t include the right-of-way land in the purchase agreement, retail brokers intimate with the deal tell GlobeSt.com.

The city gave Candler a green light last October for a hotel, offices, a strip center and seven restaurants on condition the developer give Clermont right of way land along Hook Street and Grand Highway.

Now Candler can’t come through with his end of the deal because he doesn’t own the right of way. Wal-Mart flatly refuses to give the right of way land to Clermont, city officials have confirmed in published reports.

Wal-Mart is already scouting for new Central Florida sites. Seminole County real estate records show an investment group led by Harold G. Hartsock of Orlando has sold Wal-Mart Stores East LP an undetermined amount of acreage in the Smiths subdivision section on the county land map for $8.07 million.

Wal-Mart wouldn’t comment on that transaction. Hartsock couldn’t be reached.

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