TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- The Trust for Public Land exercised its option
to purchase Cypress Gardens one day before its owner, First
Gardens, was slated to have bulldozers on the property.
Cypress Gardens, Florida's oldest theme park founded in 1936,
was closed in the spring.
TPL, a nonprofit conservation organization, purchased the option
in August and had till Jan. 22 to line up buyers to save the land
from commercial development.
The deal came together just in time: Kent Buescher of Valdosta,
Ga.-based Wild Adventures agreed to purchase Cyprus Gardens from
TPL to reopen it as a theme park by Memorial Day weekend.
While Buescher will buy 120 acres of the property for $7
million, the Polk County Commission approved its $2.5 million
purchase of the 30-acre botanical garden at the core of the park,
which will be reopened as a botanical garden.
The deals have one more hurdle: The Florida governor and cabinet
would have to approve the state's purchase of an $11 million
conservation easement for the entire 150-acre property. The
decision is scheduled to be made Jan. 27.
To contact reporter David Cogswell, send e-mail to [email protected].