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Updated: Land-use change sought to bring nearly 3,000 apartments to 58 acres in Orlando’s tourism district

The land, since 2012, has been owned by an entity managed by David Siegel, the founder of timeshare giant Westgate Resorts, records show.
Orange County Property Appraiser
The land, since 2012, has been owned by an entity managed by David Siegel, the founder of timeshare giant Westgate Resorts, records show.

Plans are in motion to bring mixed-use development with nearly 3,000 apartments and up to 200 hotel rooms to a 58-acre stretch of prime vacant property in the heart of Orlando’s tourism district along International and World Center Drives, where S.R. 417 crosses S.R. 535.

Since 2012, the land has been owned by an entity named Gissy Holdings I-Drive Property LLC, managed by David Siegel, the founder of timeshare giant Westgate Resorts, records show.

This week, Brian Warren with the engineering and planning firm LandDesign, submitted an application to the county on behalf of the owner requesting a change determination review to update the development program for the International Commerce Center PD in order to allow the construction of 200 hotel rooms, 2,888 multifamily residential dwelling units and 200,000 square feet of commercial space.

Site plans submitted to the county name Estero-based Comterra Development Group as the developer.

“We are excited about it,” Jim Nashman, the Principal with the company, told GrowthSpotter. “We know there’s a huge need for housing.”

He declined to comment further, citing the early stages of the project.

The company’s portfolio includes 22 properties across Florida, including the 127,000-square-foot Windermere Business Center just north of Universal Studios and the Publix-anchored Tavares Crossroads shopping center in Lake County.

The company has also developed five hotels —two in Bonito Springs and one apiece in Venice Isles, Estero and Reunion.

The International Commerce Center PD, according to the county records, is currently entitled for 500 hotel rooms, 415 timeshare units, and 600,000 square feet of commercial.

In September, LandDesign submitted a separate application seeking to rezone the property from its Activity Center Mixed-Use future land use designation to allow for high-density residential. That request is also pending approval.

Representatives with Westgate Resorts could not immediately be reached for comment. Warren with LandDesign declined to comment.

The property is located in the heart of Orlando’s tourism corridor, just southeast of Disney theme parks. The 1,338-unit Caribe Royal Resort sits across the street on World Center Drive while the 314-unit Alcove Apartments borders the land to the immediate east.

A number of development projects have been proposed on this site in the past, according to Nicolas Thalmueller, the planning administrator with Orange County.

In 1992, a PD was approved for a 6.1-acre portion of this site with a development program of 280 hotel rooms and a 20,000-square-foot restaurant.

In 2006, there was a rezoning to expand the boundaries of the PD to the current 57.8 gross acre tract That approval included expanding the development program to its current entitlements.

In 2008, a development plan for a 10,000-square-foot restaurant and 10,000 square feet of office space was approved for a 5.4-acre portion of the PD.

“But that was never constructed and is now expired,” Thalmueller said.

To the northeast, The Bainbridge Companies is building its largest apartment community in the Orlando market. Across two phases, Bainbridge World Center will hold a total of 806 units near the intersection of International and World Center Drive.

Jim Gissy — whose last name appears in the title of the entity that owns the land — is the executive vice president of Westgate Resorts.

Last year, he and veteran developer Jim Karr teamed up on a plan to demolish structures along Main Street in Windermere and replace them with 6,600 square feet of office space, 11,500 square feet of retail space and 3,750 square feet of restaurant space.

In April, Unicorp National Developments submitted plans to build a 300-unit apartment community on 139 acres of land along Avalon Road owned by Westgate Resorts.

Westgate Resorts also owns land across from Orlando Health Dr. Phillips hospital that has for years been used as overflow parking for a nearby hotel. In June, preliminary plans were submitted to Orange County to discuss building a two-story, 30,000-square-foot medical office on the property that would be operated by Sand Lake Surgery Center.

Central Florida Investments, the parent company of Westgate Resorts, also has a buyer under contract for land along Westside Boulevard in Osceola County. Tampa-based Third Lake Development met with county planners earlier this year to discuss plans for a build-to-rent community on the 20-acre site.

Editor’s note: The story has been updated to include the name of the development company that will be leading the project, as well as comments from that developer.

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