Lake Sumter State College Foundation had no plans to sell the land it bought five years ago along U.S. 441 in Leesburg until a realtor came along with an offer it couldn't refuse.
Lake Sumter lucked out to have the last vacant parcel on a stretch of U.S. 441 where AutoZone wanted to build a new store to compete head-to-head with a nearby Advance Auto Parts, so they were ready to deal, Roseanne Brandeburg, the foundation's executive director, told GrowthSpotter.
After some negotiation, AutoZone paid the foundation $600,000 for just under an acre of the roughly three-acre tract that the college's foundation bought for $775,000 five years ago, Brandenburg said. The proceeds went to pay off the original loan on the property.
"Right after closing they immediately started construction," she said.
AutoZone is in high-gear expansion mode in Lake County, building new stores in the face of its Advance Auto Parts competitor.
Two new stores are going up in Eustis, which already has a relatively new AutoZone. One 6,800-square-foot store is under construction at 18515 U.S. 441, next door to a new Goodwill Store, also under construction.
The other is planned for 2312 SR 19 in the northwest corner with Haselton. That store will be 7,381 square feet.
Another new AutoZone is under construction at 213 Hermosa St. W, off of U.S. 27 in Lady Lake.
All the new stores under construction will join a plethora of other AutoZone stores that have opened in other parts of Lake County recently.
Two were built in 2014 and 2015 in Clermont, and another one in Groveland recently.
AutoZone did not return calls in the past week seeking information on their expansion strategies. Neither did the engineering firm working on the new Eustis stores, or the store development real estate manager for the area.