CDI Offloads Two-Thirds of Florida Property to Blackstone-Owned Company

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Churchill Downs Incorporated (CDI) is selling a large piece of its footprint in Florida. The company behind casinos, horserace tracks and more announced Monday that it reached an agreement with Calder Casino in Miami Gardens, FL, to sell more land than 115 acres it holds for $291 million. That’s about two-thirds of the property, and CDI indicates that, for now, it will hold onto the remaining third.

Calder Casino Goes to Blackstone

In a statement, the Louisville-based gaming company stated that Link Logistics would purchase the land. Blackstone founded the company in 2019.

Officials at Churchill Downs expect that the deal will close in the first half of 2022. CEO Bill Carstanjen spoke out during a quarterly conference call with stock analysts about plans to sell excess land at the former Calder Race Course, a thoroughbred track located near the Dade-Broward border.

Churchill Downs will retain approximately 54 acres at Calder despite the sale. This is a little less than one-third of the area the property currently occupies. The company stated that it could sell 15 to 20 acres of land fronting NW 27th Avenue. This area is currently used as a parking lot, but it could be used for retail purposes.

Analysts had previously heard Carstanjen mention that the company would use the proceeds of the land to purchase additional land or to invest in properties that could be considered a 1031 exchange. This would allow Churchill Downs, under the federal tax code, to take the proceeds without having to pay capital gains taxes, since the company would be trading one development or parcel for another.

Calder Property a Prime Location

Churchill Downs purchased the Calder property in 1999 and held live racing there until 2014. Churchill Downs began leasing the track to The Stronach Group in 2015, which used it for their fall meet. After a five-year agreement, racing at Calder was officially terminated last year. Churchill Downs demolished the grandstand and almost 1,500 stalls on the property.

Calder, Hialeah Park, and Gulfstream Park offered thoroughbred racing in Miami for nearly half a century. Only Gulfstream offers live racing among the others.

The Calder Casino was opened in 2010. Like everywhere else, it took a hit from COVID-19 and shut down for a while in 2020. It reopened in September 2020, and now has the potential to be the center of attention in South Florida as the casino debate in the state heats up. It falls within the disputed zone of where the Seminole Tribe of Florida expected to control operations; however, a judge’s ruling voiding the compact between the tribe and Florida could alter the landscape completely.

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