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LA BELLE, FL-Alico-Agri Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of La Belle, FL-based Agri-Insurance Co. Ltd. and Alico Inc., has purchased about 291 acres of citrus grove and pasture land here for $9.2 million. The company is considering entering the commercial-development arena, says Alico chairman and CEO John R. Alexander.

“We will be exploring alternative uses for the property, including commercial and residential development,” Alexander says in a prepared statement. The acquisition was made at this time because “the property met with our goal of acquiring undeveloped property with development potential,” Alexander says.

The tract is about 60 miles south of Downtown Orlando and offers 2,100 feet of road frontage on US 27 and 2,600 feet on County Road 640. The land also includes about 2,640 feet of lakefront along the nearby 6,000-acre Crooked Lake. The purchase price equates to $31.615 per acre or 73 cents per sf.

Alexander says the acquisition is an exchange property under Section 1031 of the Internal Revenue Code. The company plans to defer tax on the $9.2 million of net proceeds received from the $62.9 million land sale to Ginn LA Naples Ltd. LLP, a subsidiary of Orlando-based Ginn Development Co., as GlobeSt.com reported July 18. Ginn paid $6.3 million cash or 10% of the total purchase price. Alico holds a first mortgage on the property.

Alexander couldn’t be reached at GlobeSt.com’s publication deadline to learn the identity of the seller. He is confident “the returns from this investment over the next five years will prove rewarding to our shareholders.”

Alico Inc. owns about 136,000 acres in Collier, Hendry, Lee and Polk Counties. The company’s various operations include citrus-fruit production, cattle ranching, sugarcane and sod production and forestry. Alico also leases land for farming, cattle grazing, recreation and oil exploration.

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