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Mormon church will own nearly 2 percent of Florida

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Friday, November 08, 2013

Orlando Sentinel: The Mormon church will soon own almost 2% of Florida when it completes a deal to buy most of the real estate of the St. Joe Co.

The megapurchase was announced jointly Thursday by a corporate representative of the church, which owns the nearly 295,000-acre Deseret Ranches in Central Florida, and by the real-estate and timber business, which has built several communities along the Panhandle coast.

According to the announcement, a church entity, AgReserves Inc., will buy 382,834 acres – the majority of St. Joe's timberlands – in Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty and Wakulla counties for $565 million.

Completion of the deal will leave the Utah-based church with 678,000 acres, an area larger than any other private holding in Florida, according to widely shared but unconfirmed rankings of top landowners.

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