Cypress Gardens Bid Period Closes (FL)

Tallahassee, Fla., 11/14/03 – The Trust for Public Land (TPL) announced today that it has received three bid packages from potential buyers of Cypress Gardens, the historic Polk County attraction that has been closed since last spring.

Friday afternoon was the final day for prospective buyers, a deadline set on Oct. 14 by a letter from TPL that solicited bids.

Greg Chelius, TPL Florida director, said he was pleased with the result. He said the next step is, “TPL will analyze the bids, focusing on the financial details and capabilities of the bidding companies.” If one or more bid is determined to be viable, Chelius said, TPL will do a more detailed analysis that will consider financial factors, the bidder’s plans for Cypress Gardens, and other factors such as the bidder’s background and experience in operating attractions.

TPL, a national nonprofit land conservation organization, signed a contract Sept. 25 with First Gardens, L.C. to purchase Cypress Gardens, with the goal of long-term protection of the historic attraction. The 142-acre site under contract includes the botanical gardens, the water ski arena, Snively Mansion, the butterfly conservatory, and historic structures such as the radio museum. The purchase price for the 142 acres is $22 million, based on an appraisal commissioned by TPL. Plans are for TPL to sell a conservation easement to the State of Florida that will protect the property from typical lakeside development and TPL is working with the state to draft the easement language.

TPL also may look to public ownership to preserve the historic core of the gardens, Chelius said.

About TPL: The Trust for Public Land is a national nonprofit organization working exclusively to protect land for human enjoyment and well-being. TPL helps conserve land for recreation and spiritual nourishment and to improve the health and quality of life of American communities. Operating in Florida since 1975, TPL has helped save more than 275 sites as community parks, waterfronts, historic sites, greenways and trails. The Wall Street Journal’s Smart Money magazine recently named TPL the nation’s most efficient large conservation charity for the second year in a row, based on the percentage of funds dedicated to programs.