WINTER HAVEN, FL-The shuttered, 68-year-old Cypress Gardens water sports-theme attraction here will have new owners by Feb. 24 if a complex deal orchestrated by Washington, DC-based Trust For Public Land goes through.

After eight months of deciding how to keep the landmark Florida attraction from the clutches of commercial real estate developers, the trust has worked out a three-party deal that could allow it to recoup most of the $22 million it will be paying initially for the 150-acre property.

Under the deal, which still has to be approved by Gov. Jeb Bush and his six-member Cabinet, the trust would pay Cypress Gardens owners Larry Maxwell and William Reynolds $22 million, or $154,930 per acre, by Feb. 24. The trust then would sell 120 acres to Kent Buescher, owner-operator of the Wild Adventures attraction in Valdosta, GA, for $7 million, or $58,333 per acre. The remaining 30-acre botanical gardens, considered the centerpiece of the park, would be purchased by Polk County and the City of Winter Haven for $2.5 million, or $83,333 per acre.

The third leg of the deal involves the state government itself. The trust is asking the state to pay $11 million for development rights. That move would bar private commercial development in the park. The state isn’t expected to review the deal until Jan. 27, the governor’s office tells

If the deal gets done, the trust would net $20.5 million, or about $141,666 per acre, brokers following the deal tell The trust also has an option to separately buy another 7.1 acres on Swann Point at the north end of the botanical gardens.

Although the trust and supporters of Cypress Gardens are adamant in keeping commercial development out of the park, Buescher has already told the trust he plans to install a roller-coaster and other entertainment rides when he takes over.

Orlando timeshare developer David A. Siegel’s bid of $100 was not seriously considered by the trust, brokers tell “David wanted to keep the park from being commercially exploited,” a source close to Siegel tells “His plan was to operate Cypress Gardens with its existing attractions and turn over all revenue to the state.

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