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OCOEE, FL-Municipalities frequently get into the redevelopment business on sites they own within city confines. But this town—with a population of 30,000–is setting a precedent in Florida by developing Ocoee Crown Point itself as a new subdivision outside its borders, area brokers tell GlobeSt.com.

The Orlando bedroom community and the Orange County School Board jointly bought 360 acres from Coca-Cola Co. in 2000 for $3.75 million, or about $10,417 per acre (24 cents per sf). The land is on the southeastern bank of Lake Apopka, about seven miles from Downtown Orlando.

Mayor Scott Vandergrift, a licensed Florida real estate broker, couldn’t be reached by GlobeSt.com’s publication deadline; however, city staffers and area brokers following the unusual venture tell GlobeSt.com the town plans to rezone the agriculture-zoned property and sell the bulk of the developable land to private developers.

It’s the first time the school board and the town have partnered in such an enterprise. Both maintain taxpayers will benefit when the land is sold for at least twice the price paid for the dirt, area brokers tell GlobeSt.com.

Critics of the deal, however, maintain a local government shouldn’t put taxpayer dollars at risk in speculative commercial real estate ventures. “Talk about conflicts of interest,” one broker who could be involved in the project tells GlobeSt.com. “The conflicts are there but they can be worked out to everyone’s satisfaction.”

The city and the board have paid a private consultant $430,000 to master-plan the subdivision. Tentative development plans for Ocoee Crown Point call for 30 acres of commercial space, 217 townhomes, 156 single-family and multifamily residences, a high school, parks and 80 acres of protected wetlands.

Brokers tell GlobeSt.com the deal calls for the school board to control half of the project, including the high school and the townhome land component. Construction on the school is expected to start in September.

School board officials have told residents the county saved about $6 million by buying the land before the surrounding area was developed.

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