Kissimmee hires CSL to fast-track performing arts center study

The Kissimmee City Commission last week hired a leading Minneapolis-based consulting firm to conduct a rapid market study and feasibility report for a future performing arts center at the Kissimmee Civic Center.

Convention, Sports & Leisure International (CSL) is the same firm that worked with Osceola County on its 2022 tourism plan and potential uses at Osceola Heritage Park

CSL Principal John Kaatz told GrowthSpotter his prior experience in Osceola is important because any potential changes at the civic center would impact other facilities in the market. 

"On the cultural arts study, when you look at it you realize you’re pulling the threads on a pretty intricate tapestry," he said on Monday. 

Osceola Arts, which is led by County Commission Chairman Brandon Arrington, has approached both the city and county with a proposal to earmark $10 million of Tourist Development Taxes (TDT) for the project and take over management of the facility.

The Osceola Arts proposal maintains the meeting space component of the facility, but would convert the existing 10,000-seat gymnasium into a pair of theater spaces with 1,000 seats and 200 seats.

Other county commissioners have been receptive to the proposal, citing a demand for greater cultural offerings and "quality of life" improvements that attract higher paying jobs to the community.

The CSL team agreed to complete the $49,000 study in six weeks. That includes hosting at least two community meetings. The firm has completed similar studies in Sarasota, Jacksonville, Lafayette, Louisiana and Fairbanks, Alaska -- to name a few. 

"It's an accelerated schedule, but we can meet the deadline," Kaatz said. "The challenge will be getting enough advance notice to the public for the meetings. I would envision several community focus groups and having an opportunity for stakeholders and residents to participate in some sort of online survey. The key for that is making sure we get the word out."

Kaatz said his team would conduct a deep dive into the civic center's existing program schedule and look at market demand and potential for a change in use. 

CSL advised the city of Hoover, a suburb of Birmingham, Alabama, on how best to convert a former department store building into a cultural arts center. In Kissimmee's case, however, the building is used seven days a week and already has bookings a year in advance. 

"The challenge here is its got a great book of business," he said. 

Still, if the study determines the cultural arts are being underserved, a reuse of the civic center would be more cost-effective than building a new cultural arts center. And the opening of a new SunRail station right next door could expand the customer reach.

"What we’re looking to do is look at potential uses," he said. "That will require us to talk to arts groups and school groups and promoters about who wants to come here and how do we accomplish it. We're not just offering a civic center solution, but a community-wide solution."

A typical CSL feasibility study would offer multiple scenarios with recommendations for financing and operations of the facility.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at lkinsler@GrowthSpotter.com or (407)420-6261, or tweet me at @LKinslerOGrowth. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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