Questions surround city's plan to buy back Parramore land at higher price

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ORLANDO, Fla. —

Orlando's City Council just approved a plan to buy a property for nearly three times what it sold for and the group that will make the profit already owes the city nearly $1 million.

The land is at the corner of Church Street and South Parramore Avenue across from the site of the new soccer stadium.

The city sold the piece of land in 2005 to the Black Business Investment Fund, also known as the BBIF, for $814,000. At the time, former city commissioner Daisy Lynum was on the BBIF board.

Despite a recession that's sent real estate values plummeting, the city is preparing to buy back the land for $2 million.

"BBIF paid fair market value when they purchased the property from us in 2005. We're paying fair market value today," said Mayor Buddy Dyer. "We have some pretty good comparables right across street."

But Channel 9's Lori Brown learned the comparables were based on what the city paid for the soccer stadium land, for which the purchase price was based on other city purchases.

BBIF will pocket the $1.2 million profit all while owing the city nearly $1 million for a development grant to rebuild Carver Theatre.

"Why pay $2 million to an organization that owes the city a million dollars?" Brown asked.

"That's what the fair market value is," Dyer said. "That doesn't have any thing to do with the fair market value and they're repaying that money."

When Eyewitness News brought the issue to the attention of commissioners on Friday, they said they had a lot of questions for the city. By the time of the vote Monday, those question had apparently been answered behind closed doors.