Xero Gravity Action Sports, developer of an extreme sports-themed resort planned for 75 acres in Osceola County, is now looking at larger sites for its project in Orange County, along with parcels near ChampionsGate and as far west as Tampa, the company's CEO told GrowthSpotter.
Sterling-Sotheby's in Orlando was recently engaged to provide alternative land sites as large as 125 acres for consideration, and to assist in local and international capital raise opportunities, said Larry Walshaw, CEO behind the Xero Gravity Action Sports and Entertainment Resort.
"Orange County was one of the first we considered, but a main reason we went with Osceola was because it had a couple of large land sites, and their promise of a fast-track development process enamored me to Osceola County," he said. "But we aren't dug in on Osceola, we see opportunities in Orange that could work. We've even been approached to go further west. We'd love to stay in the Orlando area, of course."
The resort has been planned up until now for a 75-acre site off US 192 near the intersection with SR 535, a former wooded area just east of the Target store at 4795 U.S. 192, where popular Disney cast hangout Big Bamboo Lounge was once located. Walshaw has talked with Osceola County about incentives and financing for the project.
Walshaw said the property may no longer be large enough for his project's needs, as there are wetlands on site that would have to be mitigated. His firm is now eying up to 125 acres, with sites as far west as ChampionsGate and Tampa presented.
Parcels of note in Orange County's International Drive corridor include a 77-acre tract of undeveloped land directly south of Artegon Marketplace, vacant for a decade and once destined for an amusement park, which commercial brokers say could draw renewed interest in a hot market.
Colony Capital, an international investment firm based in Santa Monica, Calif., is in the process of acquiring 479 acres across various parcels east of Universal Boulevard owned by an affiliate company of Atlanta-area developer Stan Thomas, via foreclosure. That property's Planned Development currently would not allow Xero Gravity's entertainment use.
Xero Gravity signed a purchase agreement in October 2014 with land owner Central Florida Investments, Inc., parent company of Orlando-based Westgate Resorts, and made a $50,000 deposit for the site. The company had its deadline to commit to purchase the property extended indefinitely in mid-April.
Xero Gravity also recently hired California-based media company 530MediaLab to design and manage the resort's marketing strategy, website and customer management systems, as well as design the branded look and appeal of the property. The company focuses on clients in action sports, automotive and lifestyle brands, and boasts clients like Redbull, Nike and MasterCraft Boats.
"The key in our involvement with Xero Gravity is to ensure that the vision is carried out in a way that resonates with true and aspiring action sports enthusiasts and their families," said Will Embree, new business developer at 530MediaLab. "The vision goes far beyond activity and entertainment. Xero Gravity will exist to inspire creativity and provoke that 'can-do' attitude in all of us from the consumer to the industry brand levels."
With a project budget of $309 million, Walshaw told GrowthSpotter in mid-May the private equity portion of the ownership's capital stack will be around $62 million. The remainder will come from individual investments by the partners, mezzanine funding, construction debt and foreign-sourced EB-5 loans.
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