LDS Affiliate Announces Florida Land Deal

Nov 7, 2013

A Utah-based corporation affiliated with the Mormon Church announced this week it's finalizing a major real estate deal on the Florida panhandle.

AgReserves, Inc., a tax-paying corporate affiliate of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints based in Salt Lake City, will acquire more than 382,000 acres of rural and timber-rich land in nine Florida counties for a price of $565 million, according to a Florida real estate firm.

The Tampa Bay Times reports the deal would make the LDS Church the biggest private land owner in the Sunshine State. It already has real estate holdings in Central Florida where it operates Deseret Ranches.

In a new release issued Thursday, the St. Joe Company, a Florida-based real estate development group, says it's selling 382,834 acres of its non-strategic timberland and rural land in Northwest Florida to the Utah company.

"This sale of timberland will help the company concentrate on its core business activity of real estate development in Northwest Florida," said Park Brady, CEO for the St. Joe Company. "The proceeds from the sale will provide the company with significant liquidity and numerous opportunities to create long-term value for our shareholders."

AgReserves has said it plans to use the newly acquired land for agriculture and timber purposes.

"AgReserves has demonstrated its commitment to wise land stewardship and prudent resource management during more than 60 years of ranching and agricultural operations in east central Florida," said Paul Genho, Chairman of the Board for AgReserves, Inc. "We will apply that same commitment and expertise to managing the property we are acquiring in Florida's panhandle. We look to the long term in everything we do."

St. Joe officials say the final price of the land deal is subject to a sales agreement and closing conditions.