Award-winning New York City construction firm Sciame is taking the lead on a $1 billion Smart City town center in NeoCity.
Osceola County had signed a development and purchase agreement in December with Korean tech billionaire Young-hwa Song to design and build a 70-acre town center that combines luxury living with shops and restaurants and a new performing arts center on the lakefront.
Commissioner Cheryl Grieb told GrowthSpotter that Song had brought on Sciame as a consultant on the Phase 1 planning, but the firm was so taken with the project it offered to buy DSUS out and take over the project. Chairman and CEO Frank Sciame and Senior Vice President Steven Colletta replaced Song in January and formed a new company, BlueNeoCity, along with Korean businessman Andrew Kim.
“We’re very excited about Sciame,” Grieb said, noting that the firm brings a level of expertise to DSUS that it lacked under Song’s leadership. “They were very impressed with what we’re trying to do. They had contacts in the industry that Mr. Song didn’t necessarily have. He’s not a developer. He’s got the dollars.”
The company has extensive experience developing world-class performing arts centers — one of the main components of the Phase 1 plan. Sciame served as construction manager of The Shed, New York’s first “movable” building at Hudson Yards, which can be arranged to accommodate open-air and indoor seating with a range of audience sizes.
Sciame is also the Construction Manager for The Ronald O. Perelman Performing Arts Center, which will open at the World Trade Center in 2023. The Perelman Center will produce theater, dance, music, film, opera and multidisciplinary works while offering a range of amenities for visitors and residents in the Lower Manhattan community.
DSUS has committed to investing at least $900 million in NeoCity. Under the original terms of the agreement, the developer was required to submit its Phase 1 plans for the first 25 acres of the project by April 1, but County Manager Don Fisher granted the firm a 120-day extension. He said the company is working with New York-based SHoP Architects to implement the vision in the NeoCity master plan.
“They went through a presentation for the county team,” Fisher said. “I think they’re right on the mark.”
SHoP’s portfolio includes headquarters offices for tech companies YouTube and Uber, as well as performing arts centers like the Upper Harbor Terminal Amphitheater in Minneapolis.
The conceptual development plan for Phase 1 outlined in the conveyance agreement calls for 1,150 condominiums with nearly 400,000 square feet of amenities and common space as well as a 1.4 million-square-foot retail and entertainment hub situated along the lakefront in Neocity. The town center would include a commercial office tower, a dining and retail center with a movie theater, a 200-room conference hotel with about 100,000 square feet of convention/exhibition space and an entertainment hall with a 700-seat event center.
Osceola County Deputy Manager Beth Knight said the county is finalizing a Request for Proposals for the performing arts center and should have it ready for publication by the end of April. The responses would be due in late June.
“We want someone to come in and do a feasibility study first,” Knight said. “For our community, this is a once every 50 year-type thing.”
Fisher said the project milestones and deadlines for the developer may also need to shift by a few months. Under the original agreement, the county had hoped to approve a site development plan this December and groundbreaking was set for February 2023. “The delivery date is still the same, but it may shift as a result of this (extension),” he said.