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Tank America operator on the hunt for land in Osceola’s tourism corridor

The owner of Melbourne’s Tank America tourist attraction is on a reconnaissance mission. The target: a 15-acre site in Kissimmee’s tourism corridor.

John Kinney, owner-operator of the military-themed amusement park, met Wednesday with Osceola County’s planning staff to discuss locating the attraction at a site within the Poinciana Office and Industrial Park Planned Development.

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“What we’re looking to do is move from our location here in Melbourne over to Osceola County,” Kinney said. “A significant amount of our business is obviously tourist traffic, and we think the idea of getting a little closer to the action and to the tourists would be ideal for the business.”

Kinney opened Tank America nearly three years ago. The facility offers packages where customers can check “drive a tank” off their bucket list. He maintains five 1960s and 1970s era military tanks, and visitors drive them around a .75-mile track, compete in laser tag, and if they pay the for the upgrade, get to crush a car.

“It’s definitely a unique attraction,” Kinney said.

He inquired about the 15 acre site across Poinciana Boulevard from the McLane Suneast distribution center and south of a planned retail center called Poinciana Crossing, but Senior Zoning Administrator Amy Templeton told him the PD expressly prohibits amusement parks.

Even if he were to win approval for a major PD amendment to allow the use, it would be unlikely the facility could meet the county’s Land Development Code requirements and standards for projects with Employment Center future land use.

The staff advised him to look for site with Commercial Tourist zoning, which would allow the use, or a site with Tourist Commercial future land use that could easily be rezoned. Templeton also noted that Kinney might need to apply for a noise variance, but he said he’s confident the project would comply with the county’s noise ordinance.

“Everybody thinks tanks are big and loud, but typically in combat you don’t want to be too loud,” he said. “So they’re actually not too loud, but I understand why that would be a concern for you.”

Kinney had previously considered a site on the W192 tourism corridor but had to eliminate it because it contained too many wetlands. “We’re in need of a minimum of about 10 acres, and obviously 10 acres of usable upland property, to set up shop. And that has been the challenge,” he said.

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

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