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ORLANDO-S.C. Realty LLC, the real estate investment arm of Birmingham, AL-based SouthTrust Bank owns a prime Florida Space Coast chunk of real estate today it didn’t seek to buy in the first place.

The bank was forced to bid on the estimated 300,000-sf landmark Astronaut Hall of Fame in Titusville, FL and its sister attraction, U.S. Space Camp Florida, 60 miles southeast of Downtown Orlando, to protect its interests in $10 million of unpaid loans made to the properties for expansion in the early 1990s.

The properties’ owner, U.S. Space Camp Foundation of Huntsville, AL, a private, non-profit organization, built the two attractions 14 years ago for an estimated $30 million or about $100 per sf.

The bank bought the real estate at a Brevard County courthouse public auction for about 33 cents per sf, industrial real estate brokers in Brevard County familiar with the property tell GlobeSt.com on condition of anonymity. There were no other bidders at the Sept. 25 auction in Titusville.

Delaware North Park Services, which operates the nearby Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, is talking with the bank on buying the two attractions, according to two published reports. The properties employ a total staff of 60.

U.S. Space Camp opened its first attraction in Huntsville in 1982 and followed up with the Florida camp in 1988. The camps offer week-long or weekend programs for a tuition fee to young adults on astronaut training, simulated space shuttle missions, rocket building and launches, scientific experiments and lectures on the past, present and future of space exploration.

U.S. Space Camp’s Web site says it receives no direct federal funding for its operations.

The foundation is governed by a six-member volunteer board of directors. They are George M. Beason Jr., chairman; Jim Odom, vice chairman; Dr. William Lucas, secretary-treasurer; Oliver Jones; Mike Gillespie; Dr. Mary Jane Cayor; and Doug Jones. Ralph Gipson is the executive director.

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