Burt Reynolds's ranch, or more correctly, his former ranch, is to be re-developed to allow the construction of some 30 homes on its 150 acres of land.
When Reynolds owned the ranch, he turned it into something of a tourist attraction and celebration of his career in movies. Among other things, it included a gift shop, the Burt Reynolds Museum, and a petting zoo; he even married his second wife, Loni Anderson, on the ranch. The marriage lasted five years, which was, at least, longer than his first marriage to Judy Carne, which lasted only two.
Burt Reynolds, now 78, is the son of a former Riviera Beach police chief. He started acting soon after leaving school, eventually playing small roles on TV. His movie career began in 1961 and slowly grew until he became one of the most popular stars of the 1970's and 80's.
Unfortunately, his on-screen success did not translate into financial security. Following a messy and expensive divorce from his second wife, and bad investment decisions in ventures that failed, he filed for bankruptcy in 1996.
Three years later the Reynolds Liquidating Trust sold his ranch to the School District for $3.85 million. Last year, the School District agreed to sell the land to developers, K. Hovnanian Jupiter LLC. On Thursday, the Palm Beach County Commission approved zoning changes needed to build the 30 new homes on the site of the Burt Reynolds ranch.
The original plan was to build a school on the site, but the new owners eventually gave up on the idea. Now, the developers are planning estate-style homes, horse-riding trails and land set aside for preservation.
County Commissioner Hal Valeche, said: "This is going to be beautiful."
However, people living in the immediate vicinity expressed concerns that the development would cause the area to lose its rural character. Hovnanian says that it has worked with Jupiter Farms representatives to design a building plan aimed at blending in with the area.
Some 60 acres of the Reynolds Ranch are to be set aside as conservation land and nearly 2 acres are being set aside for future civic uses, which could include a fire station and a library.
The Jupiter Farms Environmental Council endorsed the compromise building plan. Its president, Susan Kennedy, said, "We are excited about some of the opportunities."
Burt Reynolds still has many fans who prefer to remember him as he once was. He too, is no doubt reflecting back on the days when the Burt Reynolds Ranch was his home and living monument.
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