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Former Sanford airport CEO selling 65 acres for development

A section of the 65 acres off Celery Avenue in Sanford that is earmarked to contain 130 homes.
A section of the 65 acres off Celery Avenue in Sanford that is earmarked to contain 130 homes. (Seminole County Property Appraiser)

The colorful former head of Orlando Sanford International Airport, who also served as Sanford's mayor, is joining with a neighbor to sell 65 acres that are planned for development into 130 homes.

Larry Dale, who left Sanford airport's leadership in October after almost 14 years with a distinct legacy, said he is negotiating with a notable home builder to place the land under contract.

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In addition to his time at the airport, Dale served as Sanford's mayor from 1997 to 2001.

Larry Dale, who colorfully ran Orlando Sanford International Airport for almost 14 years and is now selling off a good part of his property.
Larry Dale, who colorfully ran Orlando Sanford International Airport for almost 14 years and is now selling off a good part of his property. (Stephen M. Dowell, Orlando Sentinel)

Dale, who owns about two-thirds of the parcel, said he could not disclose the builder's name because he is under a confidentiality agreement with the company. The project has a tentative name, "Riverside Oaks."

The property lies in unincorporated Seminole County, carries a Sanford address, and is located on the north side of Celery Avenue between Sipes and Beardall avenues.

Before any construction can be done, the land must be rezoned from Agricultural to Planned Development. The builder will also have to put in a left turn lane from Celery Avenue.

Dale said that as word spread that he and neighbor Daryl McLain were interested in selling their adjacent pieces of pasture as a single parcel, they received "many" expressions from the home building community.

The size of the land, which over the years was used by Dale's children for horseback riding, provided appeal given the growing scarcity of large tracts in Seminole County.

The land would be sold in the name of the Larry A. Dale Family Trust and by Daryl and Barbara McLain.

Dale said he will continue to live on land just off of the main property, "keeping my house and my barn."

Dale is renowned as a provocative civil servant in Seminole County and beyond.

He was known as a gun-toting firebrand who ran Orlando Sanford International Airport for nearly 14 years, overseeing the largest expansion in the airport's history.

On any given day, Dale could be seen pacing the airport like a modern-day cowboy — with his boots and guns — half cop and half manager, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

But the airport grew greatly under his stewardship. The Sanford airport today is ranked among the 100 busiest airports in the U.S., comparable to airfields in Savannah, Georgia, and Palm Springs, California.

Diane Crews, who was airport vice president at the time a search was being conducted for Dale's replacement, ended up getting the position.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at ktalley@growthspotter.com, via Twitter at @karentalley or (407) 420-5176. Follow GrowthSpotter on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

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