8,364 acres for sale

Jacksonville Business Journal - July 20, 2007

FLAGLER COUNTY -- An 8,364-acre tract of land for sale for $109 million deep in Flagler County has Bald Eagle nests, an oak hammock forest, wetlands marsh and shoreline frontage on two lakes -- and the sellers want to keep it that way.

The land, at State Road 100 and Water Oak Road about seven miles west of Bunnell, is the largest single tract of land for sale in Flagler County, a co-owner said, and is one of a dwindling number of large, undeveloped tracts still available in Northeast Florida.

The investors who collectively own the property under the name Crescent Timber LLC are willing to wait for a buyer who shares their preservation interest, investor Chuck Davis said.

"It would be for sale to the right person, but only to the right person," said Davis, who is also a sales agent at Daniel Crapps Agency Inc. in Bunnell, which is selling the land.

Crescent Timber bought the land as an investment in 2005, for $54.4 million from Tree Source LLLP. It has been for sale for six to eight months for about $13,000 per acre.

The tract is larger than four of the five cities in Flagler County. It is more than twice as big as the 3,008-acre Bunnell and more than three times the size of 2,624-acre Flagler Beach. The property is slightly more than a quarter of the size of the 32,448-acre Palm Coast, the county's largest city.

"It is a unique property, and we're looking to do something really unique with it," Davis said. "It's not like any other property in Florida you've ever seen."

Palm Coast's record-breaking residential construction this decade earned Flagler County the title of fastest-growing county in the nation two years in a row. As city land prices rose in 2004 and 2005, some buyers bought land on the still mostly rural western side of the county, Flagler County Property Appraiser Jay Gardner said. Land values increased 15 percent to 20 percent in some western areas of the county.

Land sales have slowed since 2005, however. Last year, the largest land sale was of 638 acres for $7.8 million, or $12,207 per acre southwest of Favoretta, off U.S. 1 near the Volusia County line. Land that could have a homesite on the west side of Flagler County is valued between $17,500 and $25,000 per acre. Wetlands are valued at $350 per acre.

The land for sale near Crescent Lake includes 4,500 acres of planted pine and 3,864 acres of oak hammock and class A and B wetland marsh. It has 11 miles of shoreline frontage on the 16,000-acre Crescent Lake and Dead Lake, a popular local fishing spot that runs into the St. Johns River through an adjoining creek.

Over the years, and under different owners, parts of the land have been used as an orange grove, pasture land and most recently a pine plantation. It was also once part of the famed Dee Dot ranch owned by the J.E. Davis family of Jacksonville, which also owned Winn-Dixie Stores Inc.

Daniel Crapps sales agent Baynard Ward, who also has a minority ownership in the land, said that while its ultimate use would be the buyer's decision, he could envision it as a resort destination, possibly even a golf course resort. No official plans have been made for the land, however.

"Who knows what could be done with it," Ward said.