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Friday, June 14, 2024

City sells 115-acre property at Ocala International Airport for $12 million

Ocala City Council members approved the sale of a 115-acre property at the Ocala International Airport for just over $12 million, going against the Airport Advisory Board’s recommendation to deny the sale and lease the land.

Council members unanimously approved the sale of the non-aviation property to InSite Real Estate Investment for $12,075,000 during the council’s regular meeting at Ocala City Hall (110 SE Watula Avenue).

Ocala International Airport
Ocala International Airport is located at 1770 SW 60th Avenue

The vote passed 4-0, with council member Jay Musleh not in attendance for the meeting.

Last year, InSite notified the city of its interest in the property, which is situated along the south and west sides of SW 67th Avenue Road, within the Ocala Business Park at the airport.

According to city records, since the business park was created, the city has “sought to sell non-aviation property” to “interested industrial developers.” Council President Barry Mansfield, who works in construction, echoed those sentiments.

“I’m excited that we can pump the money into the airport. Just for the fact that I want to bring it to the next level. That’s always been my passion. We’ve got a great airport, we can get there now,” said Mansfield.

Last month, the Airport Advisory Board discussed the sale of the property and ultimately recommended against it.

According to city records, the board preferred to lease the property.

In the case the property was sold, the board recommended selling it at “fair market value at or above the $100,000 per acre verified by an appraisal no more than 30 days old,” according to city records. The most recent appraisal on the property was conducted on April 24, 2024. That report estimated the market value of the property at approximately $105,000 per acre, or $12,075,000 in total.

According to Airport Director Matthew Grow, the new appraisal represents a “significant increase” over the previous appraisal, which was around $75,000 an acre.

A map shows the 115-acre property along SW 67th Avenue. (Photo: City of Ocala)

During the discussion on Tuesday evening, council member Jim Hilty, Sr. facetiously asked Grow if the airport was interested in getting into the landlord business.

“If you were to lease that, you would have to be the landlord and all that type of stuff, you’d have to make the improvements and be the landlord if you want to lease it? And that’s not your business, correct,” said Hilty.

“That’s not our business and it would be a substantial capital investment to make that happen,” answered Grow. “Releasing smaller parcels might make sense, but these are very large parcels.”

The site is slightly irregular-shaped with varying terrain, primarily grassy with some heavy tree coverage to the east, according to the appraisal report. It is currently designated as M-2 (Medium Industrial), with future land use as an employment center.

InSite is privately held and headquartered in Oak Brook, Illinois. The company develops, owns, and operates industrial, office, and retail investment properties across the country.

Since its inception, the company says it has completed over 600 projects in over 40 states, ranging from 2,000 to 2.6 million square feet and from $1 million to $250 million in value.

According to Grow, the proceeds from the sale will be held in a fund within the airport’s budget and will be used for capital projects to expand aviation operations at the facility, which is located at 1770 SW 60th Avenue in Ocala.