One of the biggest draws for the proposed International Skydiving Museum & Hall of Fame in Kissimmee would be its adjacent wingsuit wind tunnel – just the second such attraction in the world and first ever planned in the U.S.
But the developer would have to clear a major hurdle before progressing on the multi-million project: winning approval for a noise variance from Osceola County’s Board of Adjustment.
Jim McCormick, director of development for the “Skydiving Experience” project, met with the county’s Development Review Committee Wednesday to discuss a myriad of issues related to the complex, which also would include a 30,000-square-foot museum and a 16,875-square-foot indoor skydiving facility. The non-profit museum organization is under contract to buy four commercial outparcels on Kissimmee’s W192 tourism corridor, about a half mile west of the S.R. 429 interchange.
Joining the video conference from Denmark were Johan Stromberg and Peter Georen, who own and operate the world’s only wingsuit simulator in Stockholm, Sweden. They are partnering with the museum to locate a second facility in the westernmost lot of the complex, and expect it to be one of the major draws for the museum because it gives visitors a completely different sensation than a vertical freefall.
“Both are exciting experiences, but this is truly unique and we anticipate people who are coming from great distances to enjoy this experience,”McCormick said.
The 3-story building would be located next to Manny’s Chophouse. Immediately to the south, a new luxury apartment complex is nearly completed in in pre-leasing. McCormick said the turbine would be situated so the louder noise emissions would be directed north, to W192.
The anticipated noise at the south property line would be 45.4 decibels – slightly over the permitted 45 in the county’s noise ordinance. The closest residential units would be about 300 feet from the noise source, McCormick said. The noise levels on the western property line, adjoining the restaurant, would also exceed the permitted levels, but McCormick said he hoped the county would be more lenient since it’s a non-residential use.
“We’ve been on top of this from the very beginning, because we know that this is potentially a significant issue,” he said.
Senior Zoning Specialist Amy Templeton said the noise ordinance doesn’t distinguish between residential and commercial uses with regard to impacted properties. The last developer who sought a noise variance for a motorsports racing attraction just east of this site faced intense neighborhood opposition.
“It was generally out in this area, it was adjacent to (S.R.) 429,” Templeton said. “The difference with that one is it was probably a lot closer to more residential than your site is.”
The motorsports park developer ended up withdrawing the variance request during the Board of Adjustment meeting after a six-hour public hearing. Templeton told the applicant they could go ahead and file now for the variance before submitting a site development plan. The county would likely schedule a community meeting prior to the public hearing.
“Obviously, this is a critical issue and the viability of the project is is will be determined by this,” McCormick said.
The museum concept is ambitious. It includes a two-story atrium lobby with a giant LED screen featuring skydiving videos that will be visible through the glass window wall of the atrium at great distance. Once inside, visitors would learn the history of the sport through artifacts and a series of interactive exhibits featuring touch-screen technology and virtual reality goggles.
They would begin the tour on the second floor, accessing it by an elevator designed to replicate a jump plane ascending to jump altitude. Then they would step out into an immersive 360-degree theater that gives them the sense of being part of a free fall. The building concept also includes a dining facility evocative of many private drop zones, and private event space.