09/23/2004 12:00AM

Franks farm may close


Feb. 1 could mark the end of a Florida Thoroughbred landmark, the Franks Farms Southland division in Ocala, Fla. The 1,100-acre nursery currently is under contract with a developer who plans to transform most of the property into an equestrian community.

The Ocala Star-Banner reported Thursday that developer Glenn Lane of First American International Inc. and partner Dr. Steve Reintjes are marketing the Franks land as a community to be called Via Paradisus, offering tracts of 10 acres minimum on the back part of the farm. Lane plans to offer 300 to 400 acres on the front of the property, where the Franks training track is located, as a turnkey Thoroughbred training operation, including the track, farm office, and nearby barns.

"They're planning riding trails all over the land," said the Southland division's longtime manager, Will Johnson. "The farm also butts up against the Florida Greenway, which is a big selling point for hikers. Their plan is to make a lot of trails for horses, bikes, and people. He has four months to evaluate the property, and at that point, if he takes it, on the first of February Franks Farm will end."

John Franks, one of the nation's leading owners and breeders, died at age 78 late last year.