August 22, 2014

Economic yearbook 2011

Florida's Biggest Private Landowners - Beyond the Top Ten

Cynthia Barnett | 4/1/2011

» The Colliers — Barron Gift Collier, the advertising entrepreneur who fell in love with southwest Florida and acquired more than a million acres, was Florida's biggest landowner a century ago. In the 1970s, Collier's heirs divvied up those holdings by pulling 640-acre sections out of a hat. Barron Collier Cos. and Collier Enterprises remain major Florida landowners, each with a portfolio of more than 80,000 acres, but they no longer make Florida Trend's top 10.

» Alico — The company once headed by Ben Hill Griffin Jr., LaBelle-based Alico, just missed the top 10, with 139,607 acres of citrus, sugarcane, ranchland and other operations in Collier, Glades, Hendry, Lee and Polk counties. Alico is controlled by central Florida development company Atlanticblue, led by state Sen. JD Alexander, who wants to develop a Highlands County piece of the company's holdings known as Blue Head Ranch. The Department of Community Affairs last fall rejected the county's comp-plan amendments for the proposed new town, arguing in part that the county hadn't demonstrated the need for the intensity of development.

» King Ranch— An out-of-state company — King Ranch of Texas — now owns more citrus land than any Florida company, with 40,000 acres in groves.

Conservationists

» M.C. Davis — This Santa Rosa Beach businessman launched his conservation philanthropy in 1996, when he purchased 30,000 acres of Mallory Swamp in northern Lafayette County and traded it to the state for a conservation area that has now grown to 60,000 acres. In recent years, Davis and Sam Shine have planned out and funded 48,000-acre Nokuse Plantation, a private initiative to secure a vital conservation corridor connecting preserved lands in Florida's Panhandle with the Conecuh National Forest in south Alabama and with the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia.


Ted Turner's Avalon Plantation in Tallahassee [Photo: Mark Foley/AP]


Ted Turner
[Photo: Janet Mayer/Newscom]
» Ted Turner — The CNN founder is among the largest individual landowner in the United States with more than 2 million acres and has built up Avalon Plantation outside of Tallahassee with an eye toward conservation. Turner has owned the 8,000-acre plantation for decades and has expanded surrounding holdings to more than 30,000 acres.

» Brad Kelley — Kelley, who became wealthy manufacturing discount cigarettes, owns more than 50,000 acres in DeSoto and Charlotte counties. The intensely private billionaire raises rhinos and other wild animals. LandReport.com estimates Kelley is the nation's third-largest individual landowner, behind Turner and California timber man Red Emmerson, with 1.7 million purchased for rare-species conservation nationwide.

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