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Osceola wants to rebrand Kissimmee's U.S. 192 tourism corridor

Osceola wants to rebrand Kissimmee's U.S. 192 tourism corridor
The current design theme on the tourism corridor includes distinctive purple streetlights and bus shelters. Even the sidewalks use purple tinted concrete. (Osceola County)

Las Vegas did it. Orlando's International Drive did it. Now Osceola wants to rebrand the U.S. 192 tourism corridor to give it a fresh, more modern look and a whole new marketing strategy.

The W192 Development Authority will publish a Request for Proposals (RFP) on Nov. 23 seeking firms to conduct a detailed marketing study of the destination corridor and develop new logos, banners, slogans and design standards for U.S. 192. The contract would be for a 3-year term.

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"We want to be able to do that so Experience Kissimmee can market 192 the same way Orlando markets I-Drive," said David Buchheit, executive director of the development authority.

One of the first questions to tackle will be whether to keep the corridor's signature color scheme, which includes purple streetlights, benches, bus shelters, and sign posts. Even the sidewalks have purple tinted concrete.

Buchheit isn't a fan of the purple paint, saying it doesn't wear well in the Florida sun. And since the streetlights have to be upgraded to LED lights, the authority could look to replace them with something a bit less "funky."

But some business owners want to keep the distinctive purple and teal color scheme.  "I think it's something that's very, very subjective," said George Chen, who owns a hotel, shopping center and is building a $6 million winery on U.S. 192. "The thing about color is someone can absolutely hate it and others can like it. I happen to like it. You know, Disney uses a lot of purple."

The contract is about more than just color.

"There's a lot of public involvement in this particular plan - we mean tourists and locals," Buchheit said. "We want to make sure whatever we pick is sticky – we want it to be something people remember. It could be something as simple as a refresh and repainting everything, but we also want to allow creativity. This study will lead to us being able to do more impactful projects in the future."

Experience Kissimmee CEO D.T. Minich called the branding study "a move in the right direction." He issued no comment on the color purple, but said the consultant should help develop a set of design standards to reinforces a cohesive brand.

"When they do the research and talk to consumers and business owners and get good input and come up with brand, it will help us market the area - not only to visitors but also help market it for new development," he said.

Buchheit initially planned to contract with Atkins Global, which already has a service agreement with Osceola County. He even invited Atkins consultant Kristen Caborn to present a project outline - one that involves extensive surveys and consumer focus groups - at the authority's October meeting. But board members voted instead to publish an RFP, noting that the amount of the contract warrants a more competitive bidding process.

That doesn't prevent Atkins from competing for the contract. The RFP scope of services virtually mirrors Caborn's methodology.

Respondents will be required to include information regarding the firm's experience and qualifications and examples of similar work. They will be expected to discuss their technical approach, project schedule and fees.

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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