Osceola County leaders will get the competition they were hoping for among eight firms vying for the chance to design a 500-research park surrounding the Florida Advanced Manufacturing Research Center.
The county published requests for letters of interest for firms to design and master plan the Judge Farm research park and for designer/construction teams to develop the county's College Station mixed-use project in Poinciana. Both sets of responses were due Tuesday, and while the College Station project drew only one letter of interest, the high-tech research park drew a global response.
"They're limited to 30 pages," Procurement Supervisor Rebecca Jones said. "I haven't had a chance to read them all yet, but I can tell you they're all beautiful. But they were all developed by marketing teams, so they're all going to be gorgeous."
The research park could eventually be home to residential, retail and industrial uses. It's zoned employment commercial, which allows for the highest density in the urban growth boundary.
The RFLOI specifies that the team should include experts in planning, marketing, park design, development of architecture design guidelines, and landscape architects who develop streetscapes, signage and lighting plans.
Jones said the evaluation team will read and rank each proposal over the next month, but it's unlikely the Board of County Commissioners would select the top three before mid-February.
The county will pay the finalists $15,000-$25,000 to prepare a draft conceptual plan, which the county would own at the end of the process.
Mainstreet, based in Carmel, Ind., was the only firm to submit a letter of interest to develop the county's nearly 400-acre College Station mixed use project, home to Valencia College's new Poinciana campus.
Jones said the LOI came from a partnership composed of Mainstreet, IBIS Enterprises, Ohlson Lavoie Collaborative and Design Collaborative. Each focuses on residential design with an emphasis on health and wellness.
The mixed-use project has a strong residential and student housing component with entitlements for more than 1,000 units, but it also includes retail and Class B office space.
The conceptual plan also calls for a regional park and village center on two parcels. The 30-acre Village Center should include an athletic center with an Olympic-size pool, an amphitheater, a splash park, open green space and at least 85,000 square feet of office and institutional space in phase one.
The 92-acre sports complex would have tennis courts, baseball and softball fields, as well as six long fields suitable for football, soccer and lacrosse. The design also includes a dog park, pavilions and a marina and boat launch on Lake Toho with its own restaurant and tackle shop.
Jones said that even though the county was willing to accept letters of interest just for housing or for specific parcels, the Mainstreet LOI included a rendering of the entire site.
"I'm going to assume they have a goal of doing the entire site," she said. "If they're legit and they work out, that may be a wonderful thing. If not, they scrap it and start from scratch."