Maury Carter, who fell in in love with land as a child growing up on a 100-acre farm in Virginia, started his own Orlando business in the 1970′s, and became one of the most prominent and successful land investors and brokers in Central Florida over the course of a 45-year career, died Saturday. He was 89.
The company he started, Maury L. Carter & Associates, is responsible for approximately $1.5 billion in transactions on well over 200,000 acres. Some of the land that was once owned and sold by Carter went on to later become development hotspots, such as sections of Orlando’s tourism district, Hunter’s Creek, and parts of Lake Nona.
The company’s portfolio is valued in excess of $300 million, according to the company’s website.
“His imprint on projects and land is far and wide,” Maury’s son, Daryl Carter, told GrowthSpotter. “But more important is the impact he had on people. He was so humble that he would always deflect praise and give credit to someone else. He was a man of integrity. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who would say anything negative about my dad.”
To many in the industry, he served as a mentor with a calming presence.
“I can never remember him raising his voice, even in the most difficult situations,” said Scott Crossman, the CEO of Crossman and Company.
Not only is Crossman a childhood friend of Daryl Carter but he worked closely with his dad on several deals involving Publix-anchored shopping centers.
“He was always so calm and gentle. He was a guy you wanted on your side,” Crossman said. “He was the adult in the room who could steer through rough waters. He was delightful.”
Born in 1933, the youngest of eight children, Maury Carter was raised on a 100-acre farm in Ferrum, Virginia by his father, a carpenter, and his mother, a homemaker.
It was here, as a young child, where he began to appreciate the value of land.
“From the very beginning I had a love affair with land,” he said in a YouTube video posted on his company’s website. “We depended on it for crops, our food, our living.”
After returning from service with the Army in 1953, he took a job with the company that would eventually become known as Lockheed Martin. He worked alongside engineers on the business side of the operation, according to the company’s website.
In March of 1957, he was transferred to work in a new plant in Orlando. A short time later, while still working with Lockheed Martin, he made his first land purchase, buying an orange grove near U.S. Highway 192 in Osceola County for $40,000.
He sold it five years later for $269,000.
“Some people would have bought a condo in New Smyrna Beach or a new car with that money,” Daryl Carter told GrowthSpotter. “But he said, ‘No not me, I think I’m going to put money into another land deal.’ And that was the beginning of his investment business.”
His first job in real estate was with a firm led by former Orlando mayor, Rolfe Davis. After Davis retired, Carter started his own firm in 1976.
“He was a self-made man,” Elaine Carter, Maury’s wife of 63 years, told GrowthSpotter. “He had a very, very successful commercial real estate business.”
She recalled meeting Maury at a bowling alley.
“I just liked him,” she said. “He was nice-looking and it was kind of funny because when we first met I saw him just on weekends, but then it was a couple of days a week, then it was every day that he was coming to my home.”
She added, “He was hard-working. He took care of his family, and he took care of me.”
Maury and Elaine also have a daughter, Dana DeArmas.
Daryl Carter called his dad a visionary who saw opportunity in land others didn’t see.
An example he gave: Back in the late 1970s, Maury Carter took an interest in empty land near the Orlando-International Airport. He wound up snagging 7,000 acres for $5 million — roughly $714 per acre.
“There were skeptics,” Daryl Carter said. “People would say, ‘Well Maury, what are you doing buying land way out there in the middle of nowhere?’ But vision is another thing my dad had.”
Carter sold the land in the mid-80′s for roughly $30 million. Today, it comprises a chunk of the 17-square-mile, 11,000-acre master-planned Lake Nona community owned by Tavistock Development
Lake Nona is the top-selling new residential community in Orange County. Last year the community ended the year ranked 18th among the fastest-growing master-planned communities in the nation, according to RCLCO.
Carter also has his fingerprint on property that is now designated as conservation land. He sold 1,700 acres of the Split Oak Forest, 6,100 acres within Seminole State Forest, and 10,337 acres of the Triple N Ranch Wildlife Management Area.
Trevor Hall, a long-time broker with Colliers International, entered the business around the same time as Maury and often found himself in competition with him for commercial land deals.
“I’ve always had so much respect for Maury,” Hall said. “He’s had a wonderful career, with absolutely no stings whatsoever on his reputation. He was a tough dealer, always worked in cash and didn’t owe money.”
Maury is “a legend,” Hall added. “He cast a big shadow here for a number of years.”
A memorial reception for Maury Carter will be held at the Country Club of Orlando, 1601 Country Club Dr, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. June 30.