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Osceola agency wants developers to use digital tool to qualify for incentives

Osceola County's W192 Development Authority has a new digital tool available to developers to evaluate if a project fits within the CRA's redevelopment strategy, and what fiscal incentives it could be offered by the agency.

The W192 Project Evaluation Tool has been available to developers since May. While a handful of investors and developers have asked to experiment with it for future projects, none have turned in a completed application yet.

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The core purpose of the tool is to show Osceola County what its return on investment will be from a new development that receives incentives, said David Buchheit, executive director of the West 192 Development Authority.

"Are you increasing the county's tax base? If so, by how much? The evaluation tool will show us and the developer if a project fits into the redevelopment strategy for W192. If it doesn't, a developer won't get incentives," Buchheit said.

"We can't necessarily stop a development project if it fits within the zoning parameters, but we can steer development plans with the attraction of a potential incentive package," he added.

Neither the Osceola Board of County Commissioners or the W192 Development Authority Board have decided what the developer incentives will be yet, Buchheit said, but they could range from tax abatements to upfront capital on development, depending on the project.

The W192 Development Authority has more than $2.8 million in revenue estimated to come in to its Community Redevelopment Area (CRA) in 2015. The CRA is the largest redevelopment agency in the United States by distance, stretching 15 miles along US 192 from Hoagland Avenue in Kissimmee to the Osceola County line, which encompasses most of Kissimmee's tourism corridor.

The Project Evaluation Tool was created for the W192 Development Authority by Bob Porter, executive academic director for UCF's College of Business, and director of Management Insights, Inc., an advisory group for service and technology industries.

Magic Development, an Orlando-based developer with Brazilian ownership roots, was one of the first development groups to utilize the tool in recent months. It has three timeshare projects in Kissimmee in development that total a projected $1.23 billion in investment over the next 10 to 15 years.

Magic Development's Director, James Mincy, said Monday the company hasn't applied for W192 CRA incentives yet, but is using the tool and finds it a good resource.

Its third and largest project, Magic at Celebration (formerly named Magic Place), is one of the largest proposed in the W192 CRA, a mixed-use timeshare and retail development planned for 87 acres of undeveloped land on US 192, west of SR 535.

The Project Evaluation Tool is currently available as an Excel file, and can be requested by e-mail from Buchheit.

bmoser@growthspotter.com or (407) 420-5685

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