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Colony Capital 474-acre package sells to buyer linked to Universal

Colony Capital 474-acre package sells to buyer linked to Universal
The 19 parcels totaling 474 acres are shaded in gray with white outline on the map above. (CBRE)

A buyer for the 474-acre, 19-parcel package owned by Colony Capital near Universal Boulevard was named in a Dec. 17 sale deed. In an example of expert corporate obfuscation the parent company behind the LLC and the sale price remain concealed, but sources re-affirm the buyer is an affiliate of Universal Orlando or a subsidiary of its parent company, Comcast.

Two sources with direct knowledge of the property package reasserted to GrowthSpotter on Wednesday that Universal-Comcast had an option contract for the land as of late November, and planned to close on the acquisition in December.

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"Universal or a subsidiary moved to purchase the property after we acquired it in the foreclosure. Comcast has entities all over the country, so who took title to it I have no idea," Robert F. Cooke, a Miami-based attorney who represented Colony in court leading up to its acquisition of the land, told GrowthSpotter.

A quit-claim deed signed Dec. 17 was filed a day later in Orange County by a Colony Capital affiliate, which acquired the property in a Nov. 18 foreclosure auction. The buyer is named SLRC Holdings, an LLC formed in Delaware on Oct. 28, for which an Orlando post office box is the lone address.

That LLC filed in Delaware is represented on paper solely by Enterprise Corporate Services, a firm that helps companies form out-of-state companies like this. "SLRC" may stand for Sand Lake Road Complex, a name applied by past owners to the vast expanse of property east of Universal Boulevard and north of Destination Parkway.

GrowthSpotter first reported on Dec. 1 that Universal Orlando had a contract in place to buy the 474-acre package of 19 parcels, with plans to potentially build a new theme park, confirmed by nine sources who say they were told this directly by a Universal or Comcast official.

Universal Orlando declined to comment on the market rumor at that time, and did not respond to an email requesting comment on Wednesday.

As of Wednesday afternoon, SLRC Holdings could not be traced back to any parent company by address or registered agent.

Delaware's State Division of Corporations does not collect any more information for the formation of an LLC, like a list of managing members that are required for Florida LLC formations. This LLC has yet to register with Florida's Division of Corporations, and may not have to if it never generates income in Florida.

Less than $1 in deed doc taxes were paid in Orange County for the deed filing, making it difficult to determine a true sale price for the property package.

A spokesperson with the Orange County Comptroller's office told GrowthSpotter on Wednesday they'll be reporting this transaction and SLRC Holdings to the state Department of Revenue, because no taxes were paid for the deed document.

The comptroller cannot challenge who is the grantee on a deed filing if the document is adequately prepared, and notarized, as this deed was.

The filing of a quit-claim deed for the 474-acre package is within reason. On foreclosed property like this was, everything is clear on the property history. There are no liens, the title work is ready and due diligence can be done in 30 days or less.

Filing a quit-claim deed can be a way for the buyer entity to tie up this package of property for a limited time so that it can't be sold to anyone else, said Raymond L. Schumann, partner with Florida In-House Counsel Law Group.

An amended deed could be filed by SLRC Holdings weeks or months from now in order to pay the full deed doc taxes on the purchase price, and any potential interest owed to the county.

GrowthSpotter first reported that Colony Capital would kick off its global marketing campaign for the package on Oct. 30, and expected offers of $150 million to $200 million by one buyer for all the land.

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"This recently formed entity doesn't have to register in the state of Florida if it's not generating income here. In Florida you have to register a physical address for a business, but in Delaware you don't," Schumann said. "The people behind this really knew what they were doing."

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at bmoser@growthspotter.com, (407) 420-5685 or @bobmoser333. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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