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Windermere Parcel of 400 Acres of Land sold at $16.25 m

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Tue, Dec 06, 2011 at 9:15AM

A Florida land parcel that just sold at a deep discount is quickly drawing interest from home builders, showing how land buys during the crash are starting to bear fruit.

Ridgewood Real Estate Partners and hedge-fund partner Angelo, Gordon & Co. recently snapped up nearly 400 acres near Orlando for $16.25 million. That was a steep discount compared with the $44 million it commanded near the 2005 peak; it fell into foreclosure in early 2010 and was purchased by Jen Florida II LLC.

Ridgewood, based in Florham Park, N.J., and Angelo, Gordon joined forces several years ago to find and acquire bargain-priced land that will be resold to home builders and developers for a profit down the road. In this case, the partners won’t have to wait long: The 268 construction-ready lots are under contract to be sold to a publicly held builder over the next 18 months, says Jonathan Grebow, Ridgewood’s president. Other parts of the land will be developed.

As we’ve written, builders have been slowly returning to Florida, long considered ground zero for the housing and mortgage crisis. Meritage Homes Corp., one of the nation’s largest players, last week announced it was entering the Tampa market, “one of the most attractive home-building markets in the southeastern United States.”

Orlando is being helped by Walt Disney World and other theme parks and health-care related growth. Geosam Capital Inc., a private investment group based out of Toronto, recently acquired nearly 120 unsold condos, commercial space and undeveloped land in the mixed-use Veranda Park development for an undisclosed price, according to brokerage HFF.

In the Ridgewood deal, the land is in a subdivision called Windermere Trails that is part of Horizon West, a sprawling master-planned community that saw development slow when the market crashed. (Coincidentally, it is also near the Martha Stewart eco-friendly home that KB Home unveiled earlier this year.)

“This is still an area, even given the horrific stuff that we’ve gone through here, this is where people want to be,” said Jim McNeil, chairman of law firm Akerman Senterfitt’s national residential development practice, which represented Ridgewood and Angelo, Gordon.


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