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BOCC Approved $20M Purchase of Williams Reserve at Immokalee

On the May 28th Board of County Commissioners Meeting, the agreement for the sale and purchase of the 2,247 +/- acres of property at Williams Reserve at Lake Trafford, Immokalee, was approved with all commissioners in favor.

This acreage will be purchased for $20,770,000, the average of two appraisals. Possible uses have been identified, including conservation, affordable and workforce housing, parks and recreation, transportation infrastructure, stormwater management, and economic development. The Chief of the Immokalee Fire Rescue District has expressed interest in co-locating a fire station on the property. On April 3, 2024, the Conservation Collier Land Acquisition Advisory Committee (“CCLAAC”) considered the potential acquisition of approximately 1410 acres of this land for use in the Conservation Collier Program.

This acquisition began when the parcel owners approached the County with a Listing Memorandum.. The BOCC approved staff to send a letter of intent to purchase the land, and the sellers responded with their conditions. Since then, the County and Sellers have engaged in a series of negotiations to establish the terms of the purchase agreement. Several terms and conditions were presented at the May 14 BOCC Meeting and amended during the May 28 Meeting, including:

  • Pricing: Originally, the Sellers had the right to rescind the agreement if the Board approved a purchase price lower than $23,000,000. However, through the efforts of the Board and County, they were able to negotiate a final price of $20,770,000, which complies with the statutory average of 2 appraisals.
  • Environmental Concerns: Sellers already possess a Phase I Environmental Report and a limited Phase II Report which was provided to the county 3 days after the May 28th BCC meeting. A six-month due diligence period for conducting environmental evaluation and testing was allowed. If the County is unable to obtain the environmental and other investigation reporting within the 6-month inspection period through no fault of the County, it will receive an automatic 90-day extension.
  • Agricultural Leases: Grants lease renewal rights designated for agricultural purposes, primarily for producing fruits and vegetables and hay fields. The existing leases between the Seller and agricultural tenants are assignable to the County. 
  • Naming: Any conservation park established on the purchased land is requested to be named “JAMES E. WILLIAMS JR. PRESERVE” or similar for a minimum of 20 years.  

The total acquisition cost of this land is estimated at $20,830,000 ($20,770,000 for the land and $60,000 for a title commitment, title policy, closing costs, and recording of the documents). Further environmental testing and remediation costs are still uncertain. In addition, the lands dedicated to Conservation Collier will require annual maintenance for the restoration of the slough. Maintenance is expected to cost approximately $1M per year.

While this parcel of land provides opportunities for infrastructure that may be used by citizens, development plans must be transparent, and expenses must be properly identified to ensure sustainability of amenities. Environmental aspects, such as the presence of numerous animal species and the high probability of contamination prior to agricultural uses, septic tanks, or other disposed items presently on the property. These concerns and associated costs of remediation must be fully addressed within the 6-month evaluation period to ensure the price and investment of taxpayer’s money are justified.

The total financial impact of this project remains uncertain as additional costs from environmental testing and remediation are still pending upon the review of Phase I and partial Phase II environmental reports and other testing or remediation that may be required. While the acquisition costs will be distributed based on the actual utilization of the land, the estimated costs of development and uses should be identified prior to the end of the due diligence period.

Download the full June 2024 Newsletter here.