ORLANDO-Colonial Properties Trust Inc. of Birmingham, AL has beaten out Jones Lang LaSalle of Chicago and Lincoln Property Co. of Dallas in heated, though phantom negotiations, with Columbus, OH developer Ronald A. Pizzuti to buy his trophy 5.64-acre pad in the center of Downtown.

After 16 years as a major Central Florida commercial real estate player, Pizzuti has sold his home in the affluent Isleworth community here and closed his Downtown office.

Ken Simback, Pizzuti Co.’s Southeast senior vice president in Orlando, is looking for a new job and the 12 office staffers are moving to Colonial’s property management division, area brokers following the newest Pizzuti scenario tell GlobeSt.com.

Pizzuti and Colonial officials couldn’t be reached at GlobeSt.com’s publication deadline to learn the contracted price. But area land brokers intimate with the Downtown office submarket tell GlobeSt.com on condition of anonymity the year-end deal will probably close at $11 million or about $2 million per acre ($45.9 per sf).

Orange County real estate records show Pizzuti bought the 5.64-acre tract and an adjoining 5.19-acre tract in 1995 for $14.2 million or $1.31 million per acre ($30.10 per sf) from William M. duPont, a Louisville, KY horse breeder and former owner of the Orlando Magic basketball club.

The land at Livingston Street and Orange Avenue, across from the $200 million, five-year-old county courthouse complex, was supposed to be part of Pizzuti’s three-building, one million-sf office and 350-room hotel campus. But the project never got off the ground because Pizzuti couldn’t find national anchor tenants for the venture over a seven-year search.

A staunch civic booster, Pizzuti sold the 5.19-acre tract to the city of Orlando for $7.23 million or $1.39 million per acre ($32 per sf), just about what he had paid for the dirt. The city’s Lynx transportation system has been planning a central Downtown hub on the land for the past seven years.

The Pizzuti tract is the last largest undeveloped parcel Downtown. Orange County real estate records show the last large Downtown land sale was recorded in 1999 when Orlando Sentinel Communications Inc. paid locally based Vanguard South Partners and Orlando broker Robert P. Hold, acting as trustee, $1.72 million per acre ($40 per sf) for the $3 million purchase of a 1.74-acre parcel in the 1,000 block on the east side of north Orange Avenue near the Orlando Sentinel building at 633 N. Orange Ave.

Area brokers intimate with the Pizzuti-Colonial transaction tell GlobeSt.com Pizzuti’s deal with Colonial evolved from Colonial’s August $149.1 million purchase of the developer’s eight-building, 996,000-sf Heathrow International Business Center campus and 102 adjoining acres in affluent Heathrow, FL, 25 miles north of Downtown Orlando.

Jones Lang LaSalle and Lincoln were also in the running for that deal, brokers tell GlobeSt.com. In published reports and a previous telephone conversation with GlobeSt.com, Pizzuti has continually denied he would be selling either his jewel 5.64-acre tract or leaving Orlando.

Pizzuti still has other undeveloped Orange County acreage slated for residential development at an undetermined date. He also owns an industrial park in Jacksonville, FL and undeveloped land in Port St. Lucie, FL on the state’s southeast coast.

Nationally, Pizzuti’s strongest markets are Columbus and Chicago where he is focusing on industrial ventures.

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