Economic yearbook 2011
Florida's Biggest Private Landowners
The 10 — which own about a tenth of the state — will play a key role in Florida's future.
2 • St. Joe Co.
[Photo: St. Joe Co.]
Publicly held real estate company (NYSE-JOE)
Florida acres: 576,000
Headquarters: WaterSound, outside Panama City
St. Joe Co., the former paper-and-timber company that once owned a million acres in northwest Florida, was the state's No. 1 landowner until 2009. It dropped to No. 2 as it shed timberland to focus on its community and commercial developments. The most aggressive of Florida's top 10 landowners in developing its holdings, St. Joe saw its residential real estate push, planned for a decade, founder with the economy. The company lost $130 million on revenue of $138.3 million in 2009.
Major shareholder Miami-based Fairholme Fund recently forced President and CEO Britt Greene and three other board members out and is expected to spur changes to St. Joe's real estate strategy. Its 71,000-acre West Bay project is the state's largest master-planned mixed-use development, with a 50-year growth plan. St. Joe has focused on enticing aerospace and alternative energy companies to the VentureCrossings commercial project at West Bay, adjacent to the Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport, for which St. Joe donated the land.
In September, the company hired Neal Wade, former head of the Florida's Great Northwest economic-development effort and most recently the Alabama Development Office. With 1,000 acres entitled around the airport, St. Joe has "positioned this region for the aggressive new marketing effort the new governor and the state are going to do for the next few years," Wade says.