St. Joe Company contracted to sell almost 363,000 acres of timberland in eight counties to AgReserves, Inc, an affiliate of the LDS (Mormon Church), for a reported $565,000,000, or about $1,475 per acre. It is expected to close in the first quarter of 2014. During the great depression, Edward Ball, founder of St. Joe Paper Company, bought one million acres in northwestern Florida for about a dollar an acre. Assuming the land is still on the books at $1 +/-, this will be a huge profit for the company. This sale will drop St. Joe's holdings to about 184,000 acres, mostly located in potential development areas between Tallahassee and Pensacola.
When AgReserves, a tax paying company, takes title to the 383,000 acres, it will put the Mormon Church as the largest private land holder in the state, a total of about 670,000 acres used for agriculture, including timber. In 1952, the church started acquiring the 290,000 acre Deseret Ranch inland from Cape Canaveral. It has groves, row crops, timber and cattle, fitting into the Mormon philosophy of being self sustaining. In the late 1970s, I had conversations with them when they considered selling Deseret.
Foley Timber & Land of Perry, Florida is now the second largest private land holder with 562,000 acres. Plum Creek Timber is third with about 448,000 acres. A few years ago, Plum Creek had 650,000 acres and has sold some to developers and some to preservationists.
If you need help with land, call me.
Henry Rogers, CCIM, ALC
Coldwell Banker Commercial Benchmark