Kissimmee helicopter tour company pitches helipad at Artegon Marketplace

Kissimmee-based tour company Leading Edge Helicopters is the latest such operator to try and stake their claim on International Drive, proposing a helipad in the parking lot of Artegon Marketplace

The company has filed for a conditional use permit with the City of Orlando to install a vertiport/helipad location on the southwest corner of the Artegon parking lot, a shopping mall that lies at the north end of I-Drive, at the intersection with W. Oak Ridge Road. 

The total project area is projected to cover more than 40,000 square feet, with a related sales building of 600 square feet and covered seating area for waiting guests, according to plans filed with the city.

The proposal should go before Orlando's Municipal Planning Board on June 21. 

Pablo Hernandez, principal with Leading Edge Helicopters, declined to comment on the potential expansion Thursday morning, saying it was too early in the process. 

Leading Edge offers helicopter tours for as little as $15 from its two sites in Kissimmee and Clermont. 

An Artegon Marketplace spokesman declined to comment on details of the project, but said "we are always looking at ways to enhance the overall experience for our shoppers and provide them with something they can't find anywhere else in Orlando." 

The proposal is just the latest in a rush of new helipads pitched for spots on I-Drive within the past year.

Developer OrlaCross LLC, an affiliate of AMP Group, proposed dual helipads last October for the parking lot of newly-renovated shopping center Orlando Crossings West.

That project received its plan approvals from City of Orlando, and is now awaiting FAA approval before submitting construction permits to the city, said Alejandro Pezzini, COO with AMP. His company expects the attraction to be built and operating by year's end.  

Unicorp National Developments has also proposed a heliport on top of its seven-story parking garage at I-Drive 360. 

In contrast, owner-operator Air Force Fun Helicopter Tours had its proposal denied last year by Orange County Commissioners to install a second helipad and helicopter to their existing site on the southern end of I-Drive, near Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets. 

Carlos Barrios of Barrios Engineering is civil engineer on the project, and Leading Edge Land Services, Inc., was surveyor. 

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