This aerial image captured on June 5 shows the 38.8 acres along Palm Parkway and Interstate 4, looking south toward the Daryl Carter Parkway overpass. The property was almost fully mass graded at the time.
This aerial image captured on June 5 shows the 38.8 acres along Palm Parkway and Interstate 4, looking south toward the Daryl Carter Parkway overpass. The property was almost fully mass graded at the time. (Red Huber / Orlando Sentinel)

The Florida Department of Transportation paid an estimated $70 million in December to settle an eminent domain action for the taking of 39 acres along Palm Parkway and Interstate 4.

The land at the future Daryl Carter interchange was needed for stormwater ponds to accommodate the I-4 widening, also known at Beyond the Ultimate. The agency notified the owner, Colorado-based Excelsior Capital Partners, in June.

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At the time, the owner had the land under contract for several developments, including the "Beacon" a 30-acre shopping center, and a self-storage facility.

Developer pursues new permit for land targeted by FDOT in I-4 expansion

Your update on the latest steps taken to boost the value of land under contract along Palm Parkway, and how it could complicate an eminent domain claim.

"In agreement with ECP, the parties aligned their interests and negotiated with DOT," said Prineet Sharma, an attorney for two of the affected parties.

The deeds recorded in Orange County do not disclose the purchase price. Sharma told GrowthSpotter the state paid $52.5 million for ECP property that was under contract to The Ferber Company. Of that amount, $18.56 million was allocated to Ferber, according to attorney Raymer Maguire, who represented ECP in the eminent domain case.

Maguire told GrowthSpotter that ECP had always planned to sell the Palm Parkway site for $1 million per acre, and by advancing the site development and permitting and securing three purchase contracts, the company was able to get that price, plus a $4 million bonus.

Ferber wanted to position the project for restaurant owners as "Crossroads 2.0," in reference to the 29-acre Crossroads of Lake Buena Vista shopping center a few miles to the south where tenants are expected to be forced to relocate in the coming year as part of another FDOT land taking for I-4 expansion.

FDOT negotiating to buy Disney-area retail center, tenants told 18 months to vacate

Insight on what lone appraisal value is serving as the starting point for negotiations on this 29-acre property, and steps tenants can take for compensation.

"Even though Ferber wasn't the owner, the fact that they had it under contract gave them an interest," Sharma said.

In a separate transaction, the state paid ECP approximately $4 million for the self-storage site, plus another $2.3 million for the lease interest on the billboard at that site. McLane-Palm Parkway, the self-storage developer, received $2.16 million per the settlement, Maguire said.

Finally, the state paid $11 million to Dr. Wade W. Han, who closed on 5.6 acres of the ECP parent parcel in October. Han paid $4.73 for the property.

"Most eminent domain cases are very one-dimensional," Sharma said. "Here, you have a multitude of parties with legal interest in the property. They deserve a lot of credit -- the decision makers at DOT -- because the situation could have unfolded in a way that was a lot more expensive had they proceeded with litigation."

The FDOT has made an initial offer of $145 million for the Crossroads property at the S.R. 535 interchange. Located directly across from a Walt Disney World main entrance, the shopping center has 155,000 square feet of retail space and is home to some of the most profitable restaurants in the Orlando market, as well as the last Gooding's supermarket.

That case is scheduled for court hearings beginning Jan. 14.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional details about the distribution of the estimated $70 million settlement.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at lkinsler@GrowthSpotter.com or (407) 420-6261, or tweet me at @LKinslerOGrowth. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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