More than two years after picking the winning design, Osceola County officially opened the doors to its $21 million Class A office building and third permanent structure in the NeoCity campus.
“What you see is truly the power of partnership,” Commission Chairwoman Cheryl Grieb said, moments before the dignitaries cut the rainbow-colored ribbon on the 100,000-square-foot building. Grieb called the county leaders audacious for daring to spend millions of dollars to build a technology park on a former dairy and sod farm. If the advanced manufacturing center is the heart of NeoCity, the OC is the glamor.
Osceola County selected SchenkelShultz Architecture and Moss & Associates in a competitive bid process in 2017, and the final product delivered on the team’s vision to create a light, airy space that encourages collaboration. SchenkelShultz managing partner Daniel Laggan said the seed of the design began with a direction from County Manager Don Fisher to create something that had never been seen in Osceola County.
“I think probably the other salient driving point is when you walk through the front door, you instantly feel like you’re in a different space that speaks to the future, and it’s uplifting. It’s engaging, it’s kind of spiritual, if you will,” he said.
BRIDG CEO Chester Kennedy’s office has a wall of windows facing west toward the heart of the district and its 100-acre lake now under construction. On the wall is the master plan developed by Perkins+Will in 2017. “This reminds us of why we’re here,” he said.
The design team placed a large open terrace there at the northwest corner. “We were very deliberate about crafting the terrace and a board room that actually looks out on the campus and tries to get future partners and current partners to say, where could we possibly go with this building,” Laggan added.
The view to the south faces the NeoCity Academy, which opened its new campus in August, and serves as the other inspiration for BRIDG’s mission. “It says we’ve got to make sure there are jobs for them here when they graduate,” Kennedy said.
Imec is a global force in technology research with offices in the Netherlands, Taiwan, United States, China, India and Japan. Its staff of about 4,000 people includes almost 700 industrial residents and guest researchers. With the opening of the new Florida USA headquarters offices, the cooperative is expected to expand its staff well beyond the current 30 employees.
The research cooperative occupies the entire third floor of the building.
Early collaborators included Harris Corporation and Massey Services. Siemens and Tokyo Electron (TEL) have also partnered with BRIDG to develop new technologies in such fields as digital twin and semiconductors tooling at the NeoCity campus.
BRIDG Spokeswoman Gloria LeQuang said TEL currently has three employees stationed at the OC, but they expect the firm to ramp up its staffing now that there’s space available. BRIDG currently has 45 full-time employees at NeoCity. Kennedy said he expects to be at full capacity with a 200-member staff within three years.
“We’re subleasing some of our space to the Osceola Board of Realtors for one year while they build their new building,” Kennedy said.
Jeffrey Bloom and Veronica Malalos of NAI Realvest are charged with leasing the remaining 50,000 square feet. They told GrowthSpotter they are targeting users in technology fields with needs for R&D space. The purpose of the building to foster collaboration and innovation, so it’s important that any new tenants be able to contribute to the creative synergies of the two anchors, Malalos said.
One possible neighbor in NeoCity could be South Korean consumer electronics giant, LG. The firm is developing a $5 million digital master plan for the entire 500-acre district and is eyeing a 25-acre parcel on the lakefront for a “smart city” development.
“They have a delegation here this week,” Fisher said. “We don’t have a final agreement yet, but what I can say is they’re hoping to break ground in June of next year.”