EUSTIS, FL-The vacant 65-year-old, five-story, 325,000-sf Florida Hospital Waterman is being demolished today and will be replaced by a 20-unit condominium and 20-store retail complex developed by private investors. Construction is slated to start in February. The 12-acre site is 30 miles northwest of Downtown Orlando.

A six-story, 204-bed, 500,000-sf, $129 million hospital replaced the 182-bed Waterman complex in August. The new site, on US 441 in Tavares, is nine miles from the Downtown Eustis location.

In the past year, hospital trustees have rejected several multi-million-dollar offers from developers to buy the existing Eustis building and the land. Instead, trustees confirm to they will remain in control of the property, through a trust, by leasing the tract on 50-year leases at estimated annual land rents of $4,364 per acre to $6,545 per acre. Area brokers tell some of the leases may go for $11,364 per acre.

By leasing rather than selling the land, the hospital board anticipates generating annual revenue of about $48,000 to $72,000 and possibly up to $125,000, brokers tell The hospital board plans to use the money to fund its $25-million-a-year indigent care caseload and to establish the Lake Eustis Institute, an educational center that would provide academic, cultural and recreational classes for area residents.

The land leases are being handled by the Community Foundation of Central Florida, a local charitable trust.

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