Advertisement
  1. News
  2. /
  3. Pasco

Pasco land sought for preservation is sold for $18.6 million

Buyer plans to keep it a ranch.
A Pasco County citizens committee had recommended preserving the 3,600-acre ranch in 2017. It was purchased in September by the Palmetto Ridge Cattle Co. [C.T. BOWEN | Times]
Published Oct. 7

A Floral City agricultural company has purchased nearly 3,600 acres in central Pasco that a citizens group had recommended for environmental preservation.

The newly formed Palmetto Ridge Cattle Co. purchased the 3,567 acres north of State Road 52 and east of Ehren Cutoff for $18.67 million in a deal that closed Sept. 13.

Previous owners had designated the property as the Pruitt Ranch, Secret Promises and Fort King Ranch.

The land will remain a cattle ranch, said James P. Fenton, the head of Palmetto Ridge Cattle Co. and several other agricultural interests involved in citrus, berry, pine and cattle operations in Citrus County.

"We bought the ranch to run cattle on and will continue to do so,'' Fenton said in a text message. "We had sold our ranch, so we needed to find a new place to run out cattle. Simple as that.''

The sellers were heirs of the late St. Petersburg heart surgeon Dr. J. Clayton Pruitt, who acquired the land in 1997 and made it the home of the Florida Estates Winery.

The property on the north side of State Road 52 in central Pasco County is marked by a sign of its former owner. [Tampa Bay Times]

In 2017, a Pasco citizens advisory committee recommended adding the land to the county’s Environmental Land Acquisition and Management Program list as an agricultural reserve. The Southwest Florida Water Management District previously had identified the land as worthy of preservation because of its proximity to well fields and because the land includes streams, reservoirs, marshes, wet prairies and wetland forests. About half of the land is pasture.

Pasco County Commissioners balked, however, at even adding the land to its acquisition list as a precursor to negotiations, saying the size and cost could exhaust the environmental program’s treasury funded by the Penny for Pasco sales tax.

"I am sorry that that happened,'' said Mac Davis, a member of the environmental lands advisory committee. "I don’t understand that reasoning.''

The Pruitt property, known then as Secret Promise, carried significant value, Davis said, because of its size and close proximity to other preserved land, even though it was outside the designated wildlife corridor the county is attempting to assemble.

“To me, that was the most attractive thing, because size is the multiplier of value when it comes to environmental land,” he said. "The larger the piece, the more intrinsic value and the more capability to expand in an environmentally desirable way.''

The land carries a planned-unit development designation, allowing nearly 1,300 homes and 100,000 square feet of non-residential development on about 1,500 acres.

The land used to be part of the massive Fort King Ranch that totaled 5,500 acres and was owned by Freeman Polk. He tried unsuccessfully to auction the property in 1990 and advertised it in the Wall Street Journal to spur national interest. He ended up rejecting the high bid of $7.2 million and eventually liquidated his holdings as part of a bankruptcy proceeding.

Pruitt purchased 18 parcels totaling 3,586 acres for $3.1 million. The rest of the former Fort King Ranch is now the 2,000-acre 4-G Ranch, just west of the Palmetto Ridge Cattle Co. land.


















ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Regina Temple is the new president and CEO at Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point. HCA West Florida
    Read this and more Pasco County business news.
  2. Check tampabay.com for the latest breaking news and updates. TMCCARTY  |  times staff
    It’s unclear whether alcohol was involved, the Florida Highway Patrol said.
  3. The University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences - Pasco Extension opened an incubator kitchen on Sept. 23. It's  at 15029 14th Street in Dade City. The goal of the kitchen is to create educational opportunities for food entrepreneurs and help them to start new businesses. Whitney Eleamor (center left) developed the idea for the kitchen. PAIGE FRY  |  Paige Fry
    The ribbon-cutting ceremony was held last week for the Pasco County Extension Service community kitchen.
  4. Chelsea Tremblay, left, looks on while her husband Mayor Scott Tremblay is congratulated by Sherry Maklary after Pasco legislators table bill from state Rep. Amber Mariano, R-Hudson, calling for election on dissolving Port Richey at the  public hearing held at Pasco-Hernando State College in New Port Richey on Friday. OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times
    Rep. Amber Mariano’s bill requiring a public referendum on the city’s future is tabled until a legislative audit is conducted.
  5. More organizations are using "Tampa Bay" in their names when they don't represent the whole area. (Times | 2010)
    The Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. is the latest to claim the Tampa Bay name for itself.
  6. Medicare can be confusing. But there's help from trained counselors for SHINE. Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders is a free program offered by the Florida Department of Elder Affairs and your local Area Agency on Aging. Michele Miller
    Columnist Michele Miller shares her husband’s journey to get on Medicare and how local volunteers can help seniors navigate the system.
  7. The cast performs 'On The Deck Of A Spanish Sailing Ship, 1492' in the Stage West production of 'Songs for a New World', which will be presented Oct. 17-27. Pictured at top, from left: Paris Seaver, Anthony Agnelli and Nicki Poulis. Standing in front: Jay Garcia. Timothy Rooney
    See ‘Songs for a New World’ and other shows in the north Suncoast
  8. MICHELE MILLER | Times 2018
Thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts will roll into downtown New Port Richey for the Cotee River Bike Fest held Oct. 11-13. Times (2018)
    The weekend event brings thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts to town while benefiting local charities.
  9. Noelle Gibson, 8, guides fabric under the sewing machine needle as she controls speed with a foot pedal. Gail Diederich
    A retired educator intersperses math and vocabulary skills with lessons in sewing.
  10. State Rep. Amber Mariano, R-Hudson. Courtesy of Amber Mariano
    Port Richey officials accused the Hudson Republican of filing a false police report. She said the city’s complaint is "absolute nonsense.''
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement