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Palm Beach Aggregates land sells for $77 million

By Jennifer Sorentrue - Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Palm Beach Aggregates has sold 1,200 acres where it planned a 2,000-home development just west of Wellington, according to a deed filed Thursday in Palm Beach County.

The buyer, an affiliate of Pimco, the California firm famous for running the world’s largest bond fund, paid $77 million for the property, county records show. Based in Newport Beach, Calif., Pimco manages $2 trillion.

The property, just north of Southern Boulevard about 2 miles west of Seminole Pratt Whitney Road, was once a focal point in the corruption investigation of former County Commissioner Tony Masilotti.

In 2004, then-Commissioner Masilotti helped push for an increase in the number of homes that could be built on the site, from 120 to 2,000, to keep the land under county jurisdiction rather than have it annexed into Wellington.

Federal prosecutors in 2006 revealed that Masilotti and his brother, Paul, had purchased an option on 60 acres of Palm Beach Aggregates property for $100,000 during the rezoning.

After a series of County Commission approvals that boosted the land’s value, the Masilottis exchanged that land for 300 acres in Brevard County from a corporation established by a Palm Beach Aggregates attorney and netted $7.7 million from the deal, according to prosecutors.

Masilotti resigned in October 2006 amid a federal investigation and later pleaded guilty to honest services fraud. He was sentenced to five years in prison and released in February 2011 after serving 37 months.

Palm Beach Aggregates, now PBA Holdings, abandoned development plans for the property in 2008 and rezoned the land to an agricultural designation. The move came after Lennar Homes had walked away from a $200 million contract to buy the site, saying the Masilotti scandal had tainted the deal.

Development plans for the property were revived last year.

County commissioners in October approved a rezoning request to allow 2,000 homes on the Highland Dunes site. The proposal also called for 50,000 square feet of commercial or retail buildings and a 970-student elementary school

A spokesman for Pimco and a representative for PBA Holdings couldn’t be reached for comment Friday.

Staff writer Jeff Ostrowski contributed to this story.

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