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WINTER HAVEN, FL-The shuttered, 68-year-old, 159-acre Cypress Gardens water sports attraction still isn’t seeing any real daylight as the Washington, DC-based Trust For Public Land continues to review bids received for the Polk County property, 60 miles south of Downtown Orlando.

The clock is running for the trust as it watches a Feb. 24 deadline to close on a $22-million purchase contract it has with majority park owners Larry Maxwell and William Reynolds. The trust is only buying 142 acres of the property to keep it from being sold to commercial developers, as GlobeSt.com previously reported.

As soon as the trust closes on the contract, it plans to re-sell the asset to a private developer who must promise to operate Cypress Gardens as a non-profit venture. To ensure that no commercial development will be started on the land, the trust also plans to sell the development rights on the entire property to the state for an undetermined amount.

Meanwhile, the trust has eliminated one of the undisclosed bidders because the submitted price was far below the $22 million the trust is committed to pay for the park, area land brokers in a position to know tell GlobeSt.com.

The second bidder, timeshare developer David A. Siegel, chairman, Central Florida Investments Inc. has told sources he also submitted a low bid. The trust is still considering Siegel’s offer, brokers following the protracted negotiations tell GlobeSt.com.

Another bidder, Valdosta, GA theme-park owner Kent Buescher, has told the trust he remains interested in buying the property but wants clarification on the conservation easement terms that will be given to the state.

Cypress Garden owners closed the park in April after attendance fell to a level that kept them from operating the asset profitably, as GlobeSt.com previously reported.

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