The Real Deal Miami

Palm Beach County ever-so-slowly recoups rent on disastrous farm purchase

February 29, 2012 04:30PM

Mecca Farms

Palm Beach County is renting 1,900 acres it bought for $46 million to a farm for $150,000 per year, the South Florida Business Journal reported. But at least its finally generating some revenue on its unfortunate acquisition.

In 2004, the county bought the farmland west of Palm Beach Gardens, known as Mecca Farms, under the assumption that then-Governor Jeb Bush’s plans for a Scripps Research Institute campus and a massive commercial and residential development would come to fruition.

However, a judge overturned zoning approvals in 2005 and Scripps built its institute on Florida Atlantic University’s Jupiter campus.

Since then, the purchase has been maligned heavily in the press, as the county took out $175 million in bonds to purchase and start construction on the site, paid $250,000 per year in maintenance fees and did not generate a single dollar in revenue.

Now, Pope Farms will lease and maintain the land for $150,000 per year for five years to grow sugar cane. [SFBJ]