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ORLANDO-It was supposed to be a cut and dried deal for the city as they drew up plans to annex about 6,300 prime acres of developable land in the tax-rich corridor of International Drive, Orlando’s main tourist artery in the south end of the city.

Annexation of the land along Sand Lake Road near Universal Boulevard in unincorporated Orange County would have meant about $120 million in tax revenue over the next six years to Orlando, local independent planners and county staffers tell GlobeSt.com.

The annexation appeared to be a routine assignment for the city since developers Marc Watson of Orlando and Stan Thomas of Smyrna, GA had initially asked the city to annex their 1,800 acres in the same district. The developers’ company, Fourth Quarter Properties XLIX LC, is shooting for a 2009 partial completion date on 10,000 hotel rooms, 6,000 condominium rental units and an undetermined amount of commercial space where corner lots, when available, routinely sell for $1 million per acre. The city had crafted a contract with the county in 1994 to allow similar annexations.

But county chairman Rich Crotty publicly announced he would dispute that 1994 agreement, made during former county chairman Linda Chapin’s tenure. Crotty vowed he would ask the courts, if it came to that, to arbitrate the controversy. He also contacted Gov. Jeb Bush and Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, Crotty acknowledged.

The developers backed out of their deal with the city as the county assured them they could provide the infrastructure need for Orlando Glades, the Watson-Smyrna mega project, other consultants and planners in a position to know tell GlobeSt.com. Watson, Thomas and Crotty couldn’t be reached by GlobeSt.com’s publication deadline.

The developers tentatively hope to break ground on their project in 2005.

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