Magna Announces Sale of Ocala Property

Magna Announces Sale of Ocala Property
Magna Entertainment Corp. has announced it has reached an agreement to sell land once designated by its founder for racetrack development in Ocala, Fla., for $16.5 million.

MEC said Aug. 12 it reached the agreement with Lincoln Property Co. and Orion Investment Properties on the 489-acre parcel. The property, which is located near the northeast corner of Interstate 75 and U.S. 27, was originally listed with a real estate company in November for an asking price of $22 million.

While MEC never formally announced plans for the property near Ocala, company founder and chairman Frank Stronach in 2002 individually said he would like to develop a $60 million to $70 million racetrack/entertainment complex there. Stronach includes among his vast Thoroughbred holdings the Adena Springs South farm near Ocala.

Plans for the Ocala-area racetrack never really got beyond the talking stage, as the development was hampered by a variety of legal and legislative challenges, including zoning/land-use issues, and potential territorial conflicts with nearby pari-mutuel facilities such as Ocala Jai-Alai and Ocala Breeders' Sales Co.

MEC said the property sale could close in 150 days, with proceeds going towards toward the pay-down of a bridge loan the company has with parent company MI Developments. MEC-affiliated entities purchased the property for about $8 million collectively in various transactions, according to local deed records.

The Ocala property is one of several listed for sale in MEC’s debt-reduction plan, which was announced about a year ago. MEC most recently announced it had sold the former Great Lakes Downs racetrack property for $5 million, and suggested Aug. 6 it would consider selling a majority interest in Santa Anita Park.

Stronach earlier this year filed an application with the state of Florida to obtain a Quarter Horse pari-mutuel permit, which listed on it an address affiliated with the former property owned by M.J. Stavola Farms near Ocala. The Stavola farm property was purchased in April for more than $17 million by a Florida limited liability company called Ocala Meadows Farms Ltd., which does not list Stronach on its incorporation papers.

The application by Stronach was subsequently withdrawn, although The Blood-Horse recently reported he is considering a resubmission.

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