Blue Head Ranch • 66,128 Acres • Florida
“The decision-making process with SPP Land is quick and simple. The shareholders were a bit apprehensive because they needed to close on the property before year end, and SPP hit the mark. They treated us fair, were honest in their negotiations, and both sides were very happy with the final sale. The SPP Team are black and white — once you have their word, you can take it to the bank.”
Arnie Sarlo, VP of Operations
SELLER: Blue Head Ranch is a 66,128 acre agricultural property in Southern Florida between Lake Okeechobee, the largest freshwater lake in Florida, and the city of Arcadia. The property was owned by Ben Hill Griffin, Jr. who turned ten acres of citrus grove, given to him by his father as a wedding present, into a multi-million dollar business conglomerate. When he died in 1990, his children inherited the estate and continued management of the property. The current business climate, along with recent changes in tax law, presented the opportunity to maximize value for the shareholders, and they placed the property on the market.
PROPERTY HISTORY: Blue Head Ranch comprises almost 100 square miles of fruit groves, agricultural land, and prairie lands used for cattle grazing, hay production and hunting. The headwaters of Fisheating Creek flow through the property and the creek is one of the largest natural tributaries leading into Lake Okeechobee. There are multiple structures on the property including a lodge, multiple houses, a 32,000 sq. ft. processing plant and cold storage facility for blueberries. The property’s acreage includes:
- 63,433 acres of cattle grasslands, hay production and hunting lands
- 1,215 acres of citrus groves
- 720 acres of blueberry and strawberry fields
- 760 acres of sod
The Griffin family hired a national firm to market the property, and SPP Land was contacted to bid on the ranch late in the year. Because of the tax law changes, they realized the property would need to close before the end of the year which only gave them 28 days to complete their review. They were on the property seven days a week for over a month starting before daylight and finishing after dusk doing their due diligence efforts to identify any issues that would have to be addressed prior to closing on such a large tract.
SPP SOLUTION: After thoroughly reviewing the property and the Water Management District permits, SPP identified several permit compliance issues that would have to be cleared with the Water Management District of South Florida. The stormwater management impoundments on the property were in non-compliance and needed repair. The irrigation supply permits, which authorized in excess of 39,900,000 gallons a day for irrigation, also had to be brought into compliance. SPP worked with various government agencies, engineers and attorneys to successfully address the issues associated with the ranch and were able to close within 60 days. SPP analyzed the risks of the property, focused on problem-solving solutions, and moved forward at an exceptional pace to close the deal before year’s end.