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Family Trade: Kibler Ranch

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  • | 4:00 a.m. May 29, 2013
  • East County
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EAST COUNTY — Against a blood-orange sunset, the outline of cattle captures the beauty and tradition held on a more than 1,000-acre property in Myakka.

The Old Florida landscape — one filled with wild game, palmetto bushes, open land for cattle grazing, ponds and a stunning view of the Manatee River — is one that soon may be trading hands.

The property, which has been in the Kibler family since at least 1912, will be sold for the first time in more than 100 years, during an auction June 6.

“It’ll take your breath; it’s just beautiful,” said William Bone, president of The National Auction Group, which will oversee the property’s sale. “It’ll just be the perfect weekend retreat. The hunting and fishing is just fabulous there. It makes money on its cattle operation, but the real jewel is the scenery. It’s one of the last great places in Florida.”

The historic 1,009-acre site has hosted American icons such as President Lyndon Johnson; U.S. Sen. George Smathers; Florida Govs. Lawtown Chiles, Claude Kirk, Farris Bryant and Spessard Holland; and famed business and legal professionals, including Publix founder George Jenkins and attorney Chesterfield Smith, among others.

The property boasts two-and-a-half miles of frontage on the Manatee River, as well as nearly two miles of frontage along State Road 64. It also houses a two-story, four-bedroom riverfront lodge and five smaller houses. Other structures include barns, stables and equipment sheds.

Family history
A.D. Kibler and D.B. Kibler began acquiring the Kibler Ranch property in the early 1900s, forming A.D & D.B. Kibler Inc. in the process.

“It was larger (at one time),” family member and property operator Tom Kibler said of the property. “My great grandfather (D.B. Kibler) and my uncle (A.D. Kibler) started buying the property. I’ve seen records from 1912. My brother says there are some earlier ones.”

The company changed names around 1930, when D.B. Kibler, Jr. assumed the property. It became D.B. Kibler Inc.

“It was a cattle ranch,” Tom Kibler said. “In the early ’60s, we planted orange groves.”

A company called W.R. Grace and Co. purchased 40,000 acres in 1969 for phosphate mining.

“My father and grandfather kept about 7,000 acres that wasn’t for phosphate mining,” Tom Kibler said. “They created Kibler Agricultural Corp., which (operates the ranch now).”

The Kibler family also received about one-half the mineral rights below 500 feet on the 40,000 acres Grace purchased. Those rights will be conveyed with the property’s sale, as well.

On the market
Tom Kibler operates the ranch today. The property generates income from its cattle and citrus operations, but those operations could be continued or sold, at the buyer’s preference, Kibler said.

“It’s all for sale,” Kibler said. “It depends on what the buyer wants to do. If they want to get into the cattle business, (we’ll negotiate to add that component).”

Kibler said the family is not opposed to development, either.

He and his brother, David, and their two sisters, Jackie Thompson and Nancy Dew Ross, all live within an hour of the property. The siblings “drifted” apart somewhat after their father’s death in 2009 and are ready to cash in on the property, Tom Kibler said.

At one point, the property was listed at $11 million.

The family now will use the services of Gadsden, Ala.,-based The National Auction Group to oversee the property’s sale.

“It’s different than a just a farm or something,” Kibler said. “We are thinking the auction process is going to help determine the highest price for it.”

Kibler said the family owns three other parcels, which total about 67 acres. Those properties are not part of the auction.

Contact Pam Eubanks at [email protected].

The property will be shown daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. starting May 30. Individuals can contact The National Auction Group at 256-504-1141 to schedule a tour.

Auction-day registration will begin at noon June 6, and the auction will begin at 4 p.m.

Bidders will be required to pay 10% down on auction day and must have $100,000 in the form of a personal check, business check or certified funds to bid on the property.

LAND BREAKDOWN: 211 acres of improved pasture; 20 acres headquarter area; 34 acres Hamlin grove; 20 acres Valencia grove; 270 acres wooded/hammock/scrub/native land; 454 acres wood acreage along river; and 40-acre hayfield

BUILDING IMPROVEMENTS: 2,448-square-foot riverfront lodge; five houses ranging from 840 to 1,104 square feet; 4,300-square-foot barn; 2,300-square-foot-barn with open stables.



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