Bank OZK tells city it will sell to another buyer
Commissioners and greenspace advocates had rallied to purchase the parcel on Orange Avenue to expand Seven Oaks Park
Sept. 11, 2023
By Beth Kassab
City Manager Randy Knight notified commissioners today that the owners of a 2-acre piece of land the city wants to buy to expand Seven Oaks park on Orange Avenue have accepted an offer from another buyer, according to an email obtained by the Voice.
Knight and City Spokeswoman Clarissa Howard did not return a request for comment.
Knight wrote that a broker for Bank OZK (formerly Bank of the Ozarks) told him “the Bank has accepted an offer from another party that met their price and has a more streamlined path to approvals and closing,” according to the email.
Commissioner Marty Sullivan, who had led the charge for the city to acquire the property, said it appears likely the vacant land will be developed into a commercial building, though the identity of the other buyer isn’t known.
“I’m extremely disappointed that Bank OZK did not ask us for a counteroffer,” Sullivan said.
Commissioners are set on Wednesday to take the first of two votes on the city’s more than $200 million budget for next year and are expected to discuss the purchase of the parcel and how to finance a deal.
Sullivan said the city’s lack of firm commitment to the deal could have influenced the bank to pursue another offer and wants a vote taken on Wednesday.
“If we can commit, it opens the possibility of the bank reconsidering,” he said.
In the latest round of negotiations, the city offered $6 million for the land appraised at $5.8 million and said it would waive more than $130,000 worth of mobility fees. The bank’s broker presented a counteroffer that included the $6 million sales price plus a waiver for $267,000 worth of transportation impact fees and the city would pay about $60,000 in doc stamp and title fees.
That offer was contingent on approval by the Bank OZK executive team and the city was still waiting to hear back when Knight was informed Monday that the bank accepted another buyer.
A call to the bank’s spokeswoman was not immediately returned.
The Winter Park Land Trust, which advocates for the preservation of greenspace, pledged at least $500,000 from board members toward the project.
Steve Goldman, chairman of the land trust’s board, also expressed disappointment over the loss of potential open space in an increasingly dense corridor.
“The job of the land trust is to look forward — not to just be concerned with our immediate needs — but to look out over the next few decades for a good city plan that balances park land against urban development,” said Goldman, who is also a supporter of the Winter Park Voice. “It’s very clear to everyone who studied this that we are going to need more park space if we are going to retain the feeling we currently have in Winter Park, which is the reason many of us moved here.”
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