Cypress Gardens Buyer Still Unclear (FL)

Tallahassee, Fla. – 11/21/2003: The Trust for Public Land (TPL) announced today that none of the bids received by last Friday’s deadline met the requirements of the bidding process to purchase Cypress Gardens, the historic Polk County attraction that has been closed since last spring.

A total of three potential buyers had indicated they were interested in purchasing the site by TPL’s bid deadline last Friday, November 14. Since that time, TPL had been analyzing the bids and determined that none met their requirements.

“We had a bid process that did not result in a bid that was acceptable to TPL. We are now working with two of the parties to negotiate a sale that will result in a new owner for Cypress Gardens,” said Greg Chelius, director of ?TPL’s Florida Office.

Chelius indicated that TPL is also open to additional proposals, given that the organization is no longer working under its original bid process.
TPL also is working with the state Department of Environmental Protection to define the parameters and value of a conservation easement the state has committed to buy to protect the gardens from development.

“We are committed to an owner operator that will provide long-term stability for the gardens,” said Greg Chelius, director of TPL’s Florida Office.
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.

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. ?For more information, please visit our web site a