St. Joe Co., long Florida's largest private land owner, overtaken by Plum Creek Timber Co.
Saying "St. Joe Co." and "Florida's largest private land owner" used to go hand in hand. No more. Florida Trend, a sister publication to the St. Petersburg Times, reports that land sales by St. Joe has diminished its acreage. Now there'a new No. 1 in the state, reports Florida Trend magazine reporter Cynthia Barnett. (Photo: St. Joe's signature WaterColor development on Florida's western Panhandle, by Maurice Rivenbark of the St. Petersburg Times.)
"The nation’s largest private landowner is now Florida’s largest private landowner," Barnett writes. And that new player is... Plum Creek Timber Co., a Seattle-based real estate investment trust whose primary business is to grow, harvest and sell timber. It owns just over 600,000 acres in 22 Florida counties, with concentrations in St. Johns Forest, Gulf Hammock Forest, Lake Butler Forest and the Wire Grass Forest in Northwest Florida, says the magazine. Here's Plum Creek's land holdings by state.
St. Joe, based in Jacksonville and whose land holdings are concentrated in the Florida Panhandle area, said it’s down to 585,000 acres statewide in its first-quarter earnings report issued earlier this month,
Alfred duPont acquired St. Joe at the bottom of the Depression and, in effect, took over a huge collection of declining properties at extremely low prices. He and St. Joe successor Ed Ball built the company into a land behemoth in the state.
It's the end of an era. Say it ain't so, St. Joe.
-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist