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ORLANDO-Arvida, a 50-year-old Florida developer that was once part of Walt Disney World’s company stable and is now owned by St. Joe Co., is returning to the Disney fold in a developer role.

Arvida expects to close by year end on a 160-acre purchase from Disney’s Celebration Co. in one of the biggest land deals of the decade.

Arvida is buying the dirt for an estimated $320 million or $2 million per acre ($45.91 per sf), Orlando area brokers intimate with the north Osceola County submarket tell GlobeSt.com on condition of anonymity.

Arvida and Celebration officials couldn’t be reached at GlobeSt.com’s publication deadline to confirm the speculated price.

But brokers familiar with the eight-year-old, 5,000-acre Celebration town, 20 miles south of Downtown Orlando, tell GlobeSt.com the $2 million-per-acre price would be in line with recent land sales Celebration has made for hotel and mixed-used developments.

Arvida plans to break ground in 2003 on a 600-home, mixed-use community off Celebration Avenue on the southwest quadrant of Celebration near its Downtown sector. Projected sale prices for the planned townhomes, condominiums and single-family residences are $200,000 to $1 million, Arvida has confirmed in a prepared statement.

At the same time it will be doing the Celebration deal, Arvida will be developing the 4,200-home golf-course community of Victoria Park in southwest Volusia County.

Celebration’s 12,000 permanent resident population is expected to double when the total 6,000-home buildout is completed with in the next 10 years, area planners have previously projected.

Celebration Co., headed by Perry J. Reader, owns the town’s 310,000-sf Downtown commercial district, the golf course and 1,200 undeveloped acres on the west side of Interstate 4 zoned for office, retail and general commercial. About one million sf of the planned three-million-sf of commercial space in Celebration is developed.

Toronto-based Four Seasons Resorts plans a 450-room hotel in the town by 2004.

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