Youth sports complex back in the running for prime W192 site near Margaritaville

The demise of a proposed motorsports attraction on the W192 tourist corridor has cleared the way for a New Jersey-based developer to resume negotiations with Osceola County for a youth sports complex and town center at the site.

LifeSports USA was negotiating to buy the 217-acre parcel at the W192 - S.R. 429 Beltway interchange last year before Orlando Motorsports Park developer Andy Bardar put it under contract. His plans fell apart in October amid fierce opposition to the requested noise variance. 

Coldwell Banker Commercial broker Paul Hoffman, who has the $13.75 million listing, told GrowthSpotter the property is under contract again. 

The site is west of the interchange from Margaritaville Resort and directly south of Orange Lake Resort. It has active permits with the South Florida Water Management District and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers through 2020 that would allow commercial development on 22 acres, with nearly 2,000 feet of W192 road frontage.

LifeSports USA President Cary Chevat has hired LandQwest Commercial to market the town center, which is approved for 81,000 square feet of gross leasable area, including a 128-room hotel. 

LandQwest describes the project as a potential "year-round sports and recreation facility, a regional amateur sports destination venue in Osceola County with 1,000,000 visitors per year."

Chevat also registered a limited liability company, LifeSports USA Osceola, with the Florida Secretary of State on Jan. 24. He confirmed on Tuesday that he was negotiating with Osceola County and is under a confidentiality agreement.

Last year, Osceola Commissioners authorized county officials to negotiate a development agreement with LifeSports to build and operate a $70 million youth sports complex on the W192 site.

Community Development Manager Dave Tomek said Tuesday those negotiations are ongoing and are "very positive." 

"We're still operating under the same direction the board gave us a year ago," Tomek said. "These agreements take time. It took a while for the motorsports park issue to work itself out."

Chevat had requested last year that Osceola contribute $16 million in tourist development tax funds to buy wetland mitigation credits for the project. Commissioners endorsed the idea because it could expedite a plan to relocate and expand the county softball complex, and then sell the curent landlocked ball fields on John Young Parkway for development.

The county's sports facility consultant, Hunden Strategic Partners, has said replacing the five-field softball complex should be the county's highest priority. 

"We still have the same intent we had two years ago," Tomek said.

County staff has estimated the current 26-acre softball site, which is in the desirable Loop submarket, could sell for $9 million. They also told commissioners the LifeSports complex would likely generate enough new room nights to repay the TDT fund in less than five years. 

Leasing materials from LandQwest, however, make no reference to softball fields. The brochure and site plan show 16 long, multipurpose fields to support national and regional sports tournaments in soccer, lacrosse, flag football, rugby, field hockey and entertainment events.

Tomek told Osceola's Tourist Development Council that long fields are currently in high demand. But that's one reason the county just broke ground on a five-field expansion at Austin-Tindall Regional Park.

Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports, which has 17 multipurpose long fields, is also just seven miles to the east. Commissioners have said they don't want to draw business away those facilities, which are also located in Osceola County. 

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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