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Osceola extends deadline for hotel bidders, draws one local firm to site tour

Oscoela County wants a branded, convention-center hotel that would connect to an expanded exhibition hall at Oscola Heritage Park, which includes three hotel sites.
Oscoela County wants a branded, convention-center hotel that would connect to an expanded exhibition hall at Oscola Heritage Park, which includes three hotel sites. (Osceola County)

Osceola County is extending the deadline two weeks -- to March 22 -- for hotel developers to submit letters of interest for up to three hotel sites at Osceola Heritage Park and Judge Farms.

Two individuals attended a tour on Tuesday afternoon with county staff to view the hotel sites, and both were linked to Orlando general contractor Mims Construction.

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One self-identified as an employee of Mims, while the other listed "Lost Lagoon" as the company he represented.

An affiliate of Mims, Manatee Lost Lagoon Development, had been selected in early 2015 by Manatee County to build a proposed water park development on 20 county-owned acres northwest of the I-75 and S.R. 64 interchange. The original RFP for that project was rescinded by Manatee commissioners last month, ending the Lost Lagoon project before it started.

Mims Construction wouldn't be looking to pitch another water park for the Osceola land, but the firm has a wealth of hotel experience on its executive team that has made the county's hotel sites attractive, company spokesman Bill Gridley told GrowthSpotter on Wednesday.

"There's no discussion in the Osceola RFQ for a water park, and I don't think there would be enough space for it," he said. "But our team has a lot of resort hotel experience."

More than 45 different architects, consultants, developers and construction companies have downloaded the RFLOI. But since Tuesday's site tour wasn't mandatory, there's no way to gauge the level of interest until proposals are received March 22.

The list of notable planholders include Orando's Baker Barrios, which designed the hotel for Mosaic Development's downtown Kissimmee mixed use project, and Cooper Cary, a national firm with its own specialty practice for hotel design. Magley Design, the firm behind the planned iSquare Mall + Hotel on International Drive, is also a plan holder.

The county is looking for two full-service, branded hotels. One would be a convention center hotel with up to 250 rooms and suites attached to the exhibit hall at OHP.

The other would be located across U.S. 192, at the Judge Farms research park, home to the Florida Advanced Manufacturing Research Center now under construction. This hotel is conceived as an upscale conference hotel for executives working with the high tech businesses at the research park. It is expected have 150-200 rooms and suites, full restaurant and bar, meeting rooms, business center and fitness center/pool.

LandDesign, one of three firms on the short list to design and masterplan to the Judge Farms research park, is also a planholder.

The third hotel could be located at OHP on a three- to four-acre site at the intersection of Fortune Road and U.S. 192. This 150-room upper mid-scale hotel would be designed to serve park visitors and families, and parking would be shared with adjacent retail development.

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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