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Osceola County Commissioners on Monday agreed to pay $5.5 million for a former Publix grocery store on the tourism corridor to convert to a Westside Command Center for the sheriff.

The grocery store at 2925 International Drive, just north of W192, had been vacant since since Publix opened its Celebration store more than six years ago. The grocer maintained its lease, which had a non-compete clause, preventing the landlord from signing another supermarket.

The property is part of the 200-acre master-planned Xentury City development, which is home to the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center.

Xentury City President Nick Pope and Project Manager Dimitri Toumazos told GrowthSpotter the addition of a new westside sheriff’s office will benefit the entire tourism corridor.

“It will add a measure of safety to Xentury City and the entire vicinity, as well,” Pope said. “The county has agreed to design the facade in a manner similar to the Five-Points substation and to upgrade the landscaping. We’re very pleased that this is going to move forward.”

Sheriff Russ Gibson and County Manager Don Fisher first presented the idea of opening a command center there in June, shortly after it hit the market for $5.8 million. Gibson and Fisher sought and received $2 million from the W192 Development Authority to apply toward the purchase.

The county also allocated $2 million from its Tourist Development Tax fund and $1.5 million from the general fund that had been earmarked for W192 Bus Rapid Transit.

Gibson said the store is large enough — at 49,000 square feet — to allow him to relocate 150 personnel from the headquarters building on E192 and still have space for a community room. It sits on 5.4 acres in the heart of the tourism district. It has ample parking, and would dramatically increase the law enforcement presence on the county’s west side.

Fisher estimated it could take up to three years before the Sheriff’s Office could occupy it.

The county also closed last week on the $1.75 million purchase of another parcel in the tourism corridor for a new fire station. That 2.9-acre parcel is on Calypso Cay Way, just west of Vineland Road/S.R. 535 and across from Storey Lake Resort. Commissioners approved the acquisition in October.

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