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1.21.2004

Disney sells town center of Celebration, FL 

From the wire:



Disney Sells Heart of City It Created

By MIKE SCHNEIDER
Associated Press Writer

CELEBRATION, Fla. (AP) -- The Walt Disney Co. on Wednesday sold the heart of a city it created, ending the entertainment giant's most visible connection to an experiment in urban planning.

Disney sold the town center of Celebration to Lexin Capital, a private real estate investment firm, for an undisclosed amount.

The purchase encompasses 18 acres of shops, restaurants, offices, apartments and three land parcels. A spokesman for Lexin Capital didn't return a call seeking comment.

Disney will keep a presence in the town of 8,000 near Disney World for several years while focusing on selling its remaining commercial land, said Andrea Finger, a spokeswoman for Celebration Co., a real estate development division of Disney.

Residents and retailers said they were reassured by Lexin Capital officials that there would be little change.

"It's just a different name on the rent check," resident Heather Clayton said.

Disney's name attracted residents who had high hopes the affiliation would recreate the idyllic small-town ambiance found in many Disney films. While the town has had some problems, such as early criticism of its public school and its rigid covenants, most residents call Celebration a success. Property values are among the highest in the Orlando market.

When Disney founded Celebration in 1994, it based its designs on the concepts of "new urbanism," a school of urban planning that emphasized parks, sidewalks and the mixing of residential and commercial space.

The city now has two public schools, an 18-hole golf course and a hotel, along with the retail area.

"It's a wonderful place to raise a family," Clayton said.



Hmm. First they abandoned their attempt to acquire an institution of higher education, and now they're selling most of their planned community. Perhaps Disney isn't really trying to take over the world.

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