Once one of Florida's iconic ranching dynasties, the Latt Maxcy Corporation has sold the balance of its Osceola County land holdings -- 38,453 acres -- to a global agribusiness firm and the government of Dubai for $136.5 million.
"We are a fully integrated farming company," Optimum Agriculture CEO Gaston Marquevich told GrowthSpotter. "We are going to actively manage the property and convert some of the cattle operation to farming."
Marquevich partnered with the Investment Corporation of Dubai, which manages the Emirates' vast investment portfolio, to create the El Maximo Ranch Holdings LLC. He said the El Maximo ranch west of Yeehaw Junction was the third major closing for Optimum this year, after the company acquired ranches in Arcadia and Lake Placid.
MetLife Real Estate Lending LLC provided $75 million in financing for the buyers.
Marquevich and his partners first approached Latt Maxcy President Latimer "Coot" Wilson about the property two years ago. Land specialist Dean Saunders, managing partner of Saunders Real Estate in Lakeland, brought the two parties together and brokered the sale. Attorney Lorenzo Moll Parron of Miami-based KYMP represented the buyers from contract negotiation through closing.
Marquevich said he kept the "El Maximo" name to honor the history of the ranch that has been run by the same family for four generations, and once stretched across 150,000 acres.
The property abuts S.R. 60 to the north and Florida's Turnpike to the east. It sits 60 miles south of the county seat in Kissimmee and 30 miles west of Vero Beach.
Various state agencies had previously purchased more than 40,000 acres, which later became the Kissimmee River State Park. In 2005, Latt Maxcy sold 41,000 acres in Osceola and Indian River counties to South Florida developer Anthony V. Pugliese III for a failed real estate development called "Destiny."
Last week's sale represents a total divestiture of the corporation's agricultural holdings. The principals still own Citizens Bank & Trust, which has 13 branches in Polk County, and a real estate development subsidiary.
Marquevich said his goal will be to increase the capacity of the land, adding new crops such as potato, broccoli, tomato and watermelon. Optimum is also negotiating with multiple utility companies for potential solar farms on the property.
"We are looking to create new revenues as much as we can," he said.
Optimum sees El Maximo as a long-term hold and is looking to expand its holdings in Central Florida. The company has active contracts on two properties in the region, Marquevich said.