FCM has been at the site – located at the southeast corner of Orange Street and Massachusetts Avenue – for 68 years.
“Florida Citrus Mutual had a long run here and there have been a lot of important decisions made in this building that have shaped the direction of the Florida citrus industry, so this decision was not made lightly,” said Michael W. Sparks, executive VP/CEO of FCM. “Our Board of Directors believes now is the right time to sell. We couldn’t have a better buyer. Publix is the pinnacle of professionalism and we appreciate their diligence in making this happen.”
The deal encompasses the 21,000 square foot, two-story building and the city block bordered by Massachusetts and Orange as well as Lime Street and Iowa Avenue. The parcel overlooks Lake Morton and has garnered much interest over the years. He said Mutual’s staff and executive committee is now looking for a new headquarters somewhere in Polk County.
FCM once employed more than 75 people in the building known for its art deco design and unfinished wood paneling interior. But that number has dwindled with the shrinking citrus crop and now Mutual and a handful of tenants occupy it. The current tenants will vacate the building prior to August 31, 2017.
The high profile façade and neon Mutual sign at 411 E. Orange Street was a well-known landmark to Lakeland residents and the citrus industry before it was covered up two decades ago in favor of a more traditional look.
The Florida citrus industry creates a $10.8 billion annual economic impact, employing nearly 62,000 people, and covering about 500,000 acres. Founded in 1948, Florida Citrus Mutual is the state’s largest citrus grower organization. For more information, visit www.flcitrusmutual.com. Follow FCM on Twitter @FLCITRUSMUTUAL.
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