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ORLANDO-Paying a record price, developer Cameron B. Kuhn and three partners in a Downtown law firm have acquired the vacant 2.3-acre Jaymont Block of several dilapidated commercial buildings for $10.8 million, or $4.7 million per acre. The buildings have total development space of about one million sf, area brokers tell GlobeSt.com.

The previous highest price for a Downtown commercial property was paid by the seller, local billionaire industrialist Joseph Lewis and his associates, when they bought the Jaymont Block from a Saudi Arabian syndicate in November 2001 for $7.6 million, or $3.3 million per acre.

On a per-sf basis, Kuhn also holds the record on the sale of a commercial building. After buying the 50-year-old, 15,502-sf Gibbs-Louis retail building in 2001 for $1.5 million, or $96.20 per sf, Kuhn sold the property to Umesh Patel and Dilip Patel in July of this year for $3.1 million, or $195.61 per sf, as GlobeSt.com previously reported.

At that time, Kuhn told GlobeSt.com, “I don’t buy real estate to break even. I buy it to make a profit.”

The Jaymont Block acquisition by Kuhn and his associates is being financed by Banco Popular North America, based in Puerto Rico. Lawyers Raul Alvarez, Griff Winthrop and Steve Sambol of Alvarez Sambol Winthrop and Madson arranged the financing. The Kuhn group recorded the acquisition under Downtown Land Holdings LLC.

Kuhn couldn’t be reached by GlobeSt.com’s deadline to learn what he and his associates plan to develop on the site. But brokers and subcontractors who have worked with Kuhn on other acquisitions tell GlobeSt.com Kuhn plans a mix of office, retail, apartments and entertainment space for the site. A tentative groundbreaking is slated for June 2004, the sources tell GlobeSt.com.

City planners and independent consultants tell GlobeSt.com the Jaymont Block is considered the redevelopment core of the central business district. “If Kuhn and his people can’t make this happen, it may be a long while before anyone else locally is in a financial position to attempt this redevelopment,” an independent planner who may later be working with the Kuhn group tells GlobeSt.com.

The Lewis consortium, called the Tavistock Group, and Russell Allan, a Toronto multifamily and retail developer, had planned to erect an estimated $120 million mixed-use project on the Jaymont location, as GlobeSt.com previously reported. The project, called Main at Main, would have comprised a 16-story, $50-million, 250,000-sf class A office tower; another 14-story, $30-million, 150,000-sf class A office building; 75,000 sf of ground-floor retail; 200 luxury apartments and two enclosed garages–a 1,000-space garage for office and a 750-space structure for the apartments.

Locally based Jaymont Realty, which represented the previous Saudi Arabian owners, attempted unsuccessfully to develop the site for eight years in the 1990s but was halted each time by the Saudis who felt the time wasn’t right for new development on the Orange Avenue-Church Street corner, one of the most visible intersections Downtown.

Kuhn’s joint venture for the Jaymont Block with the Alvarez Sambol law firm follows a deal he made with the lawyers in March to jointly buy another landmark Downtown property–the 77-year-old, 10-story, 36,000-sf Metcalf Building at 100 S. Orange Ave. Kuhn and the 30-lawyer group paid Germany-based Taurus Group $3.8 million, or $105.56 per sf, for the building which was 95% leased at closing. The law firm will be moving to the Metcalf Building in first quarter 2004.

For Kuhn, a transplanted Chicago construction industry professional, the Jaymont Block acquisition increases his Downtown holdings to 16 properties totaling about 750,000 sf. If he completes projects at the Jaymont Block totaling a potential one million sf, he will solidify his credentials as the largest private Downtown property owner “by far,” an office broker who has worked with Kuhn in the past tells GlobeSt.com. “There is no one close to him at the moment, so far as total equity interests in Downtown commercial properties.

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