Formosa Gardens developer George Chen is pouring millions of dollars into the construction of the new Island Grove Wine Company in Kissimmee. He told members of the W192 Development Authority he doesn't want visitors having to drive on a blighted, crumbling road to get to his new resort.
"There's been no re-pavement of the boulevard since we dedicated it to the county 22 years ago," he said. "It's outlived its normal life. New potholes are opening up literally every week."
Osceola County is scheduled to repave the boulevard in 2016 - so that solves one problem. But Chen said the lack of landscaping and maintenance also detracts from the boulevard's appearance. The medians have grass, but no irrigation, trees or decorative plants.
"It does not speak well for the kind of quality we want the tourists to see and expect," Chen said, noting that the road will also serve the new MargaritaVillage resort.
Chen estimates it would cost $327,000 to irrigate and landscape the medians - and he offered to contribute $50,000 if the development authority would cover the rest of the costs.
"The design needs to be xeroscaping - low maintenance but still beautiful," he told the board "That is in vogue now."
As a further enticement, Chen said the Formosa Gardens Master Association would maintain the landscaping after it's installed.
"If they're willing to maintain it, I think we can definitely work something out," County Manager Don Fisher said.
Authority members agreed to consider the request at their January meeting.
County Spokesman Andrew Sullivan said the repaving project from U.S. 192 to Funie Steed Road is budgeted for $300,000.
The $8 million winery and botanical garden at Formosa Gardens opens next year. Chen said later phases will include a resort hotel and 72 luxury vacation rental homes, valued at $1 million each.
The board also unanimously adopted a series of grant programs for new signs, facade improvements and building demolition. All three programs will begin accepting applications in January.