Georgia Investor Buys Okaloosa's Shoal River Ranch

Reports from Okaloosa County inform us that Georgia timber and mining magnate Holland M. Ware, an investor with vast landholdings and properties, has just bought the 10,500-acre Shoal River Ranch located just east of Crestview.

Designated a “mega site” by the Florida Department of Economic Development, the ranch is a mixture of pastureland and planted pine strategically located with more than five miles of frontage along the CSX Railroad and more than four miles of frontage on Interstate 10.

Brenda Thueson, trustee of the Holland M. Ware Charitable Foundation, said that the purchase “Fits in well with our other acquisitions over the last several weeks. We have recently purchased over 30,000 acres in the Florida panhandle. This booming area has so much promise in industry and we are very excited to be a part of it by acquiring such a well-known ranch.”

In a closely related development, the Port St. Joe Port Authority recently signed a letter of intent from the Foundation, which wants to ship materials via the port and the Apalachicola Northern Railway – provided that the port channel is dredged and improvements are completed to the railway. The foundation is the third company to enter into shipping agreements with the port.

“The Port Authority's number one priority is to create jobs for the region,” said Leonard Costin, Port St. Joe Port Authority chairman. “This letter of intent from the Holland M. Ware Charitable Foundation demonstrates a growing commitment by businesses to use the port and AN Railway, helping create jobs in several counties in Northwest Florida. We now need to ensure the funding is secured to make the necessary infrastructure improvements so we can bring these businesses and jobs to our region.”

The Foundation now owns some 100,000 acres in the Port St. Joe area and wants to transport at least 1.5 million tons of rock and sand annually via the AN Railway. It also plans to transport rock from Georgia to Port St. Joe, and sand it owns in the Port St. Joe area, to concrete plants located in Atlanta.

“With our large acreages from Georgia through Florida and our granite, sand and timber holdings, we have an even greater interest in the revitalization of the Port of Port St. Joe as we discuss the potential of having a port that accommodates heavy bulk cargo operational by the end of 2014 combined with the understood commitment from the State of Florida to build railroad access,” Thueson said.

The Foundation also expressed an interest in selling its timber in Northwest Florida to a wood pellet plant to be pelletized and then shipped from the port. In May, The St. Joe Company signed a letter of intent with Green Circle Bio Energy, Inc., a producer of biomass renewable energy. Green Circle operates the world’s second-largest wood pellet plant in Cottondale and is interested in leasing a site from St. Joe along the AN Railway to develop a wood pellet production plant.

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