Magic Development buys another 364 acres on W192 to expand luxury resort plans

Magic Development has just closed a deal that elevates the Orlando-based firm to the forefront of companies that are reshaping Kissimmee's W192 tourism corridor.

Company executives have been hinting for months that they were working on something big. On Friday, they made good on that promise, paying $19.8 million in a cash deal for the 364 acres immediately south of their $1.7 billion Magic Place development on W192. The acquisition gives Magic a total of 250 buildable acres on the corridor, just east of Celebration and Old Town.

"Magic Place will become Magic City," CEO Rodrigo Cunha told GrowthSpotter on Monday. 

Magic will continue its partnership with famed Italian design firm Pininfarina to lead the conceptual design, architecture, landscape and interior design for the now expanded Magic City.

The firm is working with its design team now to draft conceptual plans and could have renderings by December, said Hector Lizasuain, project manager.

He said the expansion may push the total project budget above $4 billion. "We're talking about one of the largest projects of its kind in all of Central Florida," Lizasuain added. "We're so excited about the potential and the opportunity."

David Buchheit, executive director of the W192 Development Authority, was stunned by the audacity of the purchase.  

"Wow -- that is huge because they already have an incredible project," Buchheit said. "They can really do anything they want with that size of property. It was basically landlocked before, and now it's a completely usable piece of property now."

Magic Development starts clearing and site work on Magic Place next week, Cunha said. Lizasuain said Magic has had permits since early August, but held off on the groundbreaking while Cunha was negotiating for the new property.

"We've been working on this for the last six months," Lizasuain said on Monday. "Imagine having a secret like this and knowing that it will blow up the tourism industry. You'll see a lot more activity on the site now."

Phase 1 is planned to include the first of five residential towers, 80,000 square feet of retail and Magic Development's new 23,000-square-foot corporate office/sales center, for a total investment of more than $180 million. The developer is finalizing negotiations with a national hotel brand to manage the first 250-unit tower as a hotel.

Magic Place was already approved for a total of 1,850 units, plus 250,000 square feet of retail, dining and offices. The residential buildings, each with a pair of towers, would range in height from 17 to 25 stories.

Susan Morris, president of Resource Development Investment Properties, Inc., represented the sellers -- the Brahmananda Saraswati Foundation -- a nonprofit foundation that promotes world peace through transcendental meditation. 

Magic previously paid the foundation $8.32 million three years ago for 87 acres fronting on W192. The company most recently outbid other prospective buyers, including Orlando-based Park Square Homes, for the rear 364 acres that was once part of the Fallchase DRI.

Lizasuain said Magic Development will be linking the stormwater ponds on the two properties to make them a cohesive project with water taxi service at multiple locations -- an idea first floated by Park Square Homes in 2016.

He said Magic would apply next year to rezone the Fallchase land to Commercial Tourist zoning, which allows the greatest flexibility. The additional acreage will be rolled into the existing Magic Place Community Development District.

The addition will accommodate even more commercial development. Initial plans call for Magic Village III, which will be a 400-unit vacation townhome development that's comparable to the company's first two Magic Village resorts

Plans also include a luxury, gated residential community of about 60 to 66 lots. "These are going to be mansions that will be designed by Pininfarina," Lizasuain said. "They're going to be $1 million-plus homes." 

Pininfarina is best known as the designer of luxury sports cars like Ferrari and Maserati, but it's also an award-winning architecture and interior design firm with a U.S. office in Miami. It has designed a handful of custom mansions and villas in Europe. 

"They're so excited about the mansion component, because it's not something they usually do," Lizasuain said. "For them to come in and take a larger role in the home design, that's really opening up new venues for them."   

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at lkinsler@GrowthSpotter.com or (407)420-6261, or tweet me at @LKinslerOGrowth. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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