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ORLANDO-William C. Demetree, a name synonymous with commercial, industrial, retail, hotel and residential development in Central Florida for 50 years, is the newest member of the Florida Home Builders Association’s Hall of Fame.

Demetree, chairman, Demetree Builders Inc., Orlando, was selected for his years of service to the industry, the community and the state.

But a little-known item in Demetree’s real estate career is that he and his local partners in 1965 sold the late Walt Disney the 12,400 acres in Lake Buena Vista, FL that became the Magic Kingdom, the hallmark of the 30,000-acre Walt Disney World attraction, 20 miles south of Downtown Orlando. The park opened in 1970.

The land was sold by two dozen individual owners for an average $200 per acre or less than one-quarter of one cent per sf, according to Orange County real estate records. Scarce undeveloped land in the immediate Disney area today goes for over $2 million per acre or about $46 per sf, industrial brokers intimate with the Lake Buena Vista submarket tell GlobeSt.com.

With his daughter, Mary L. Demetree, Bill Demetree, 75, has diversified his real estate holdings in recent years by branching out into telecommunications and venture capital partnerships with emerging industries. In the 1990s, Demetree’s company had $100 million of active projects on the books.

The private Demetree Foundation has donated millions to Central Florida civic and educational enterprises and has strongly supported the University of Florida’s School for Building and Construction in Gainesville, FL.

As the Hall of Fame’s newest inductee, Bill Demetree joins cousins Jack A. Demetree (deceased) and Jack C. Demetree on the coveted roster.

Other Hall of Famers are Stephen Abramson, Eli Adams Jr., John A. Arbib, Henry G. Bachara, Henry Bogatin Sr., Frank Copare, Tom C. David, Ralph DeMeo, Frances Dunn, Roy T. Dye, Robert M. Ervin, Lee A. Everhart, Austin Fillimon, Arthur W. Fletcher, Sandra Warshaw Freedman, Emil J. Gould and Herschel V. Green.

Also: Kinney S. Harley, Jay Janis, Matt Jetton, John J. Koelemij, Phylllis Finney Loconto, Paul E. Mashburn Jr., Leonard Miller, Carmel R. Morris, Raymond Nasrallah, J. W. “Bill” Neese, Harold M. Nutter, Herbert a. Ross, Arthur Rutenberg, James H. Shimberg, Alfred G. Singer, Mark Smith, Bill Soforenko and Paul M. Thompson.

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