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LDS Church about to become biggest private landowner in Florida

As residents of the Orlando area know, the state of Florida is teeming with people. We continue to grow in population every decade -- while, of course, the physical size of our state stays the same. Even though there is, by definition, a finite amount of real estate available, that doesn't mean that some successful companies have been able to acquire a lot of it -- including huge chunks of commercial real estate.

A prime example of this is the efforts of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, also known as the LDS Church -- and, as it is known to even more people, the Mormon church. Much as the growth in the population of Florida shows few signs of slowing down, membership in the LDS Church continues to grow year after year. The church is known for its varied -- and generally successful -- business investments all over the world.

It might surprise many Orlando residents to learn that the church has major investments in Florida. In fact, a deal announced earlier this month will add to the church's land holdings in our state by a whopping 382,000-plus acres. The transaction for large swaths of timberland owned by the St. Joe Co., is valued at a staggering $565 million. As a result, the church will own almost 2 percent of the entire state, by virtue of adding the acquisition to the portfolio that already includes Deseret Ranches, which is almost 300,000 acres by itself.

Few businesses will ever do a deal of this size. However, an experienced commercial real estate attorney can aid businesses of any size when it comes to buying or selling real estate.

Source: Orlando Sentinel, "Mormon church-owned company buys huge swath of Florida land," Kevin Spear, Nov. 7, 2013

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