The developer of a proposed sports complex on Osceola's W192 tourism corridor couldn't close the deal despite a $20 million commitment from the county, officials confirmed to GrowthSpotter.
That leaves the county without a replacement site for its softball complex in Kissimmee, which Commissioners agreed to put up for sale in January.
The BOCC had approved a development agreement in March 2018 with LifeSports USA to build 16 multipurpose sports fields, including a championships field, as part of a mixed-use development on the 217-acre site at the southwest corner of U.S. 192 and the Western Beltway (S.R. 429). The county would have bought the sports fields using Tourist Development Tax (TDT) revenues and leased them back to LifeSports.
Community Development Director Dave Tomek told GrowthSpotter the contract expired on December 31 when LifeSports failed to close on the property. Now the trust that owns the largest undeveloped parcel on the W192 corridor has put it back on the market at the same $13.75 million sale price.
The property, which is just across the beltway from Margaritaville Resort, has been owned by the same trust since 1970. Coldwell Banker Commercial Broker Paul Hoffman has the exclusive listing for the property.
"We gave them multiple extensions," Hoffman said. "I was surprised they weren't able to close. Around Christmas time, I had a feeling I might be in this position, so I started making the rounds at the various brokers' parties."
Hoffman said interest has been fairly strong, especially now that Margaritaville is open, and runs the gamut among potential users. The Tourist Commercial zoning allows for everything from tourist attractions to hotels to retail and housing.
This is the second time in the last year a buyer has put the land under contract and failed to close. Previously, South Florida businessman and car lover proposed a motorsports park and auto club on the site. He abandoned the idea when it became clear the county wouldn't grant a noise variance for the project.
Back in 2016, the county's sports facility consultant Hunden Strategic Partners identified the parcel, which has about 100 acres of developable land, as its top choice for a relocated and expanded county softball complex. Now Tomek says the county is back on the hunt for a replacement site, preferably 80 to 100 acres high and dry.
"This property was perfect because it was big enough for the number of fields we wanted," Tomek said. "We still have the objective of getting an increased number of fields on the west side of the county."
He hasn't given up hope that a deal could be struck with a new developer. "It's a nice piece of property," Tomek said. "If someone else wants to pick it up and do the same project, we'd love to talk to them.