Of the three bids seeking to redevelop a prime spot in downtown Clermont, the one most favored by city staff features a marina large enough to dock seaplanes.
The city’s evaluation committee prefers a bid submitted by Darren Johnson, founder and CEO of the eponymous event production company Darren W Johnson Productions. He along with architecture and engineering firm BRPH are teaming up to deliver the proposed Victory Coast Event Center.
The three-story facility would feature coastal architecture, expansive covered porches and a dock for both seaplanes and boats. Its third level, dubbed the Sky Deck Lounge, features open deck area space with all-round views of the city, park and waterfront.
According to the submitted bid from Victory Coast LLC, the roughly 30,000-square-foot venue could also serve as an amenity to the city’s neighboring Victory Park.
“I have been in the event business for 38 years,” Johnson said. “There’s a real need in the market for an upscale event venue space that’s not tied to a resort."
He’s also a developer. Among his projects include downtown’s Clermont Brewing Company, which he built and operates.
In addition to the proposed event center, Johnson is also pursuing plans to build a boutique hotel and Woodhouse Spa on separate parcels across from the site. The properties are not part of the city’s solicitation.
Johnson told GrowthSpotter he is under contract to purchase the land and is currently in the process of securing financing to help develop the projects.
The event center on its own is slated to cost about $6 million, he said. According to the bid, Johnson is proposing to purchase the 0.9-acre site for $400,000.
He said he intends to break ground on the spa by the fourth quarter of this year.
The city invited developers to submit proposals in November as part of its $22 million downtown-waterfront master plan meant to revamp the area into a walkable, urban core. The 0.9-acre site sits south of Lake Minneola and west of the Lilly’s On The Lake restaurant at 846 W. Osceola Street.
The deadline to submit bids closed in early February and included bidders Peacock Capital LLC and VP Development Enterprises LLC.
Ken Polsinelli of Winter Park-based Peacock Capital LLC proposed developing a multifamily project consisting of a total of 24 units with rents targeted at households making between $40,000 to $60,000 a year.
According to the bid, the company proposed paying $240,000 for the site.
Patrick Bianchi of VP Development Enterprises sought to develop sister two-story buildings featuring ground-floor retail and residences on its second floor. The development features a breezeway at its center with access to a public courtyard and boardwalk on Lake Minneola.
The bid states the purchase price would be “no less than the average value of two independent appraisals.”
Bianchi is a real estate investor, developer and broker at Engel & Völkers who’s active in the area. He’s a manager at companies that own at least five buildings in downtown Clermont, including the Montrose Street Market, the local Engel & Voelkers office and an upcoming retail market called the Downtown Exchange.
City staff will present the evaluations to the City Council in a workshop March 17.