Major Coweta landowner adds Florida ranch to holdings
by W. Winston Skinner
Georgia investor Holland M. Ware, who is from Hogansville and owns several tracts in Coweta County, has added a historic ranch to his holdings in north Florida.
It was announced last week that Ware has purchased the Shoal River Ranch outside Crestview, Fla. The 10,500-acre ranch is located in Okaloosa County. The ranch has more than five miles of frontage along U.S. Highway 90 and 12 miles of front on Interstate 10.
There also are five miles of frontage along CSX Railroad lines.
The ranch was created by a former oilman, Jack Stack, who grazed cattle on the land. Stack created the lake system — using natural springheads.
In a news release from the Port St. Joe Authority the ranch was described as “a beautiful mixture of pastureland (and) timberland, with over 32 ponds.” The property had been listed as a mega-site by the Florida Department of Economic Development. The ranch is located contiguous to northern border of Eglin Air Force Base. There is sanitary sewer near the site, although a lift station would have to be added to serve a development on ranch property.
There are several wells on the site, and public water a few miles away.
Currently, the ranch has 1,675 acres of crop/pastureland and 4,898 acres in pines or hardwoods. There are three homes, two metal-sided barns and a pole barn on the property.
The ranch has an existing pine straw harvesting lease, and a cellular telephone tower on the property also generates income.
“This purchase fits in very well with our other acquisitions in the last several weeks,” said Ware associate Brenda Thueson. “We have recently purchased more than 30,000 acres in the Florida panhandle.”
Late last year, the Holland M. Ware Charitable Foundation signed a letter of intent with the Port St. Joe Port Authority for the Ware organization to transport materials via the Florida port and the Apalachicola Northern Railway. That agreement hinges on the port channel being dredged and improvements to the railway being completed.
The Ware organization could transport 1.5 million tons of rock and sand annually via the railroad. Foundation officials have expressed an interest in transporting rock from Georgia to Port St. Joe and then transporting sand it owns in the Port St. Joe area to concrete plants located in Atlanta.
The foundation's timber from north Florida might also be transported to a wood pellet production facility to be pelletized and then shipped from the port.
“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,” Thueson said. “We are also excited for what this could mean to the Port of Port St. Joe as we look forward to the possible revitalization of the port and the potential of water transport of our many natural resources.”
Coweta County tax records show the Ware Foundation owning 24 tracts — including parcels on Bill Cline Road, Bob Wilson Road, Coweta-Heard Road, Holbrook Road, Martin Girls Road and Midway Road. In 2010, Holland Ware was recognized as the 16th largest private landowner in the United States.
Ware has given millions to cancer research and animal protection causes.
Ware is a longtime client of the Newnan law firm of Glover and Davis and is represented by Newnan attorney Nathan Lee.