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Jax Daily Record Monday, Mar. 25, 201312:00 PM EST

White Oak sold for at least $16.9 million


White Oak Conservation Holdings LLC, a limited liability company managed by Los Angeles Dodgers owner Mark Walter, paid at least $16.9 million for the 7,400-acre White Oak wildlife conservation facility, resort and conference center, according to property records.

The Howard Gilman Foundation announced the sale of White Oak to Mark and Kimbra Walter on March 19, last Tuesday, but did not provide the purchase price.

Property records are being filed online.

As of Monday morning, two deeds shown online at the Nassau County Clerk of Circuit Courts website showed White Oak Conservation Holdings LLC made at least two purchases.

One is a $16.14 million purchase of White Oak Plantation from White Oak Plantation LLC and another is a $756,306 purchase of the administration building and IT building from Gilman Investment LLC.

The deeds were signed March 13.

While the Howard Gilman Foundation announced the sale last week that it completed the sale of White Oak to Walter and his wife, Kimbra Walter, Florida public records show the plans were solidifying in early February.

Walter and Guggenheim Partners of Chicago filed an application Feb. 26 for authorization to transact business in Florida. Walter is CEO of Guggenheim Capital LLC and chairman and controlling owner of the Dodgers.

The "Application by Foreign Limited Liability Company for Authorization to Transact Business in Florida" was filed in the name of White Oak Conservation Holdings LLC with Delaware listed as the jurisdiction under which it is organized. It was organized Feb. 5.

"Real estate management" was the listed nature of business in Florida.

The street address of the principal office was listed as 581705 White Oak Road in Yulee, the location of White Oak.

The managing members or managers were listed as Mark R. Walter, Alejandro Longoria and Robert Fedoris, all of 227 W. Monroe St., 48th Floor, Chicago. Walter was listed as manager.

All correspondence was directed to Fedoris at Guggenheim Partners at the Chicago address.

"We are honored to be the new stewards of White Oak and its unique and valuable conservation programs, which Howard Gilman initiated and his staff so ably managed," Mark Walter said in the news release issued March 19 by the Howard Gilman Foundation.

White Oak is about 30 miles north of Jacksonville in Yulee on the Florida-Georgia border.

With a conference center and lodging, the secluded property has hosted presidents and personalities, including former President Bill Clinton and ballet star Mikhail Baryshnikov.

"Our primary mission is to build upon the work already under way at White Oak to create an international model for the humane and effective breeding and repopulation of endangered species," Walter said.

The release said the Walters became interested in the property in late 2012. The Walters already support conservation programs in Texas and New Mexico and are supporters of the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, said the release.

The Walters, White Oak management and advisers will "undertake a comprehensive strategic planning process to determine the most effective ways for White Oak to carry out its intended mission," said the release.

Mark Walter also serves as a trustee or director of several organizations, including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, Security Benefit Corp. and the EquiTrust Life holding company, and he is the controlling shareholder of Delaware Life Holdings LLC.

Kimbra Walter is a member of the board of directors of Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo. She also is active in charitable organizations in the Chicago area that support the needs of economically disadvantaged children and families in need.

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