Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Gate to Make Big Land Buy in St. Johns; Company Has Not Revealed Its Plans for Development

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Gate to Make Big Land Buy in St. Johns; Company Has Not Revealed Its Plans for Development

Article excerpt

Byline: GREGORY RICHARDS, The Times-Union

Gate Petroleum Co. said Thursday it has contracted to acquire 5,460 acres in northern St. Johns County. The land straddles Interstate 95 between Race Track Road and Florida 210, in the rapidly growing heart of that county.

If developed, it would be one of the largest in the region.

Gate did not reveal future plans for the property, which will be Gate's largest land holding. The company, perhaps best known for its convenience stores, is buying the land, known as the Cummer Tract, from the Cummer Land Trust, said Gate Vice President Ken Wilson.

The company would not reveal the purchase price Thursday, and Cummer representatives declined to comment.

But to get a sense of the land's value, consider that the trees alone are worth $26 million. That's the value of the contract Gate signed to buy the timber rights from Rayonier, a Jacksonville-based forest products company. Both deals will close in April.

"Ken Wilson worked long and hard on this, and we're delighted it finally came together," said Herb Peyton, owner of Gate Petroleum.

Gate regards the acquisition as "comparable" to the 16,000 acres throughout the First Coast that Gate acquired from the Stockton, Whatley, Davin & Co. real estate company in 1983 for $64 million. That land was developed over 20 years into projects including Deerwood Park, a 1,000-acre Southside office park.

The Gate purchase joins a crowd of other mega-projects along the northern rim of St. Johns County, following the pattern of growth along the First Coast. The most massive of these is Nocatee, a multi-use complex east of the Cummer Tract covering 15,000 acres. It could add 30,000 residents to that area over the next 25 years.

Calls to St. Johns County planning department officials Thursday to determine how many buildings could be built on the Cummer Tract were not returned. …

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