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Business Observer Thursday, Jun. 5, 2014 8 years ago

Mattamy Homes buys Thomas Ranch for $86.25M

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Mattamy Homes has purchased the 9,650-acre Thomas Ranch property from Thomas Enterprises for $86.25 million. Vanguard Land, a Sarasota real estate development and investment firm, will be a minority partner in the property and will provide strategic planning and direction for Thomas Ranch.

Mattamy Homes has purchased the 9,650-acre Thomas Ranch property from Thomas Enterprises for $86.25 million. Vanguard Land, a Sarasota real estate development and investment firm, will be a minority partner in the property and will provide strategic planning and direction for Thomas Ranch.

The total acquisition price equated to about $10,000 per acre, which included some back taxes paid by buyer.

Thomas Ranch has more than 6,000 acres in the city of North Port and another 3,650 acres in unincorporated Sarasota County. The site is primarily undeveloped, but has entitlements for more than 11,000 homes and 3 million square feet of commercial development.

The purchase is the largest in Mattamy Homes' history in the United States. Prior to this acquisition, the developer/homebuilder's largest land purchase was 3,800 acres of RiverTown in Jacksonville, which closed in March.

“Tracts of land that are this size are extremely rare; they don't come to the market very often,” Peter Gilgan, Mattamy's founder and CEO, says in a press release. “What was compelling about the deal was that the property has development timelines that are almost generational in length.”

Citrus grower Jack Berry first acquired the land making up Thomas Ranch around 1984 and then started the master planning and design to develop it. Relatives of Berry, the Taylor family, later named the property The Taylor Ranch. As part of the entitlement process a large portion of it was annexed by the city of North Port. In 2002, the land was purchased by developer /cattle rancher Stanley Thomas, who renamed it The Thomas Ranch and continued to raise cattle and farm it.

Mattamy Homes expects to start development on the site in 2016.

Brian Johnston, Mattamy's chief operating officer, says the company originally tried to buy the property last year but was beat out by another potential buyer. That buyer eventually backed out and Mattamy Homes was offered the deal. The due diligence alone took six months to complete.

Mattamy Homes is Canada's largest new homebuilder. It has built more than 60,000 homes in hundreds of communities across North America. Late last year, the company purchased 235 acres in Lakewood Ranch from Schroeder-Manatee Ranch Inc. for $17.15 million.

The deal is being financed through a mortgage from Synovus Bank for about $56 million, according to Johnston.

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