A Canadian real estate developer that is building the first Muslim, family-friendly resort in the Dominican Republic has a purchase contract for one of the largest undeveloped tracts on Osceola County's W192 corridor and plans a similar 5-star resort.
The Everest Group of Companies is eyeing the 217-acre parcel at the southwest corner of U.S. 192 and the Western Beltway (S.R. 429), just across the toll road from Margaritaville Resort. This is the same property that was under contract twice in recent years, first for a controversial auto racing attraction, then for a sports complex which failed to close the deal despite a $20 million commitment from the county. It's priced at $13.75 million.
Everest is working with David Portwood, president of Davenport Consulting Group, and Kimley-Horn's Jordan Draper on its conceptual planning and due diligence. They met with Osceola County's Development Review Committee Wednesday for a pre-application meeting to discuss the latest master plan for the resort with a working title of "Golden Lagoon."
Portwood told GrowthSpotter he estimates the project budget at roughly $500 million. The first phase would begin on the northern end of the property and would include a mix of multi-story retail buildings, restaurants, multifamily and the first of several luxury hotels. Portwood said the full-service hotels would be 5-star quality with ample meeting and convention space.
Everest CEO Zafir Rashid formed an Orlando-based affiliate company, GMR Development Orlando Inc., for the project, which will be its first in the United States. In Canada, the company specializes in multi-family real estate, student residences, commercial/retail mixed-use communities, and hospitality properties.
The master plan and mood board indicate the project would replicate some of the features of Everest Group's Grand Medina Resort just north of Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. An earlier site plan provided to Osceola County continued the Grand Medina branding. Portwood said the developer has not announced whether newly renamed Golden Lagoon would be designed specifically for Muslim tourists.
Portwood did say a Grand Medina-style resort here in Orlando would open the door to a global tourist demographic that isn't well served by the local market.
"It's an exciting project," Portwood told the DRC members. "We find that this is a niche, in a sense, and we're blessed to bring it to the county. It's a wonderful opportunity."
Davenport Consulting is the architect of record and is working in collaboration with Spanish firm, Arquiestudio, which is also designing the Caribbean resort and has completed luxury resorts in Egypt and the Canary Islands.
The resort itself would be gated with a 4-lane spine road on the eastern boundary linking U.S. 192 to Funie Steed Road. The entire resort would be hugged by a massive man-made lagoon. It calls for multiple hotel and timeshare towers, a full service spa and private water park - complete with its own wave pool, water slides and lazy river. There's also a Women's Club, with a separate pool and waterfront cabanas, just like the Grand Medina Resort.
Portwood said the resort would provide water-taxi service on the lagoon for guests. Some areas of the development are designed as a series of connected islands.
"The lagoon serves two functions," Portwood said. "It's stormwater retention and also compensating storage (for the floodplain)."
The $750 million Margaritaville Resort opened in late 2018 and has already filed preliminary plans for its fifth phase of vacation homes.
Meanwhile, Maitland-based Equinox Development Properties has assembled 48-acres on the north side of U.S. 192, across from Margaritaville and west of Disney's Animal Kingdom, and plans a massive mixed-use resort development there.