The City of Ocoee formally hired local government consulting firm Central Florida Strategies, Inc., on Tuesday to manage its economic development, carrying on a relationship formed in July that had has been key to multiple redevelopment projects in the city.
City commissioners unanimously approved an annual $60,000 contract with the consultancy, led by president Angel de la Portilla, with the option for renewal in a second and third year.
De la Portilla will continue to work on economic development projects that he helped the city make progress on last year, when he was hired in mid-July on a six-month contract to serve as economic development advisor.
Those include revitalizing the West Oaks Mall with new tenants through selective tax incentive offers, which began last year with the signing of Xerox to a 70,000-square-foot office space lease. Within the next month new incentive offers may be proposed to the city commission for another retail and office user there, de la Portilla said.
The city commission approved $43 million in new infrastructure investments for Downtown Ocoee in late 2016 to promote new development.
This past fall, Ocoee decided to bond out $25 million for infrastructure projects that are expected to revitalize its downtown, along with a relocation of City Hall that would free up valuable land for new development.
Progress on various new private redevelopment efforts in the 50 West corridor, around the intersection of Maguire Road and Colonial Drive, will also be a focal point this year, de la Portilla said.
De la Portilla is an Ocoee resident, and previously served on the city's Planning and Zoning Commission from 2010 to 2016, and briefly as a city commissioner from December 2015 through April 2016.
Central Florida Strategies has been a key advisor in recent years to Rosen Hotels and Resorts in its negotiations with Orange County, developer Joshua Wallack in his development approval efforts for the Skyplex entertainment complex in 2015, and MMI Development in its negotiations with the City of Apopka and the Central Florida Expressway Authority for the Marden Road interchange, a public-private infrastructure project.