Panda Restaurant Group, parent company of Panda Express, is the latest dining chain to grab a piece of Kissimmee's W192 tourism corridor, paying $1.345 million on May 26 for a parcel directly north of the 300-acre Margaritaville Resort property now under construction.
The company should break ground in July and is actively looking for up to eight more locations in Greater Orlando, senior real estate manager Mike Everage told GrowthSpotter.
Located at 7945 W. Irlo Bronson Memorial Hwy., the 0.76-acre undeveloped parcel lies on the northern side of W192 between a Texas Roadhouse, Pollo Tropical and Joe's Crab Shack, and roughly a mile east of the S.R. 429 intersection.
The seller, an affiliate of Maitland-based Equinox Development Properties, led the property through Development Plan approvals between January and April of this year in Orange County for the Panda Express.
Equinox previously bought the parcel for $40,000 in September 2012, per county records.
Panda Express currently has about 25 restaurants in the Greater Orlando area. In the past 12 months the company has opened stores in Port Orange, Melbourne and Clermont, and has signed a contract in Casselberry where construction will begin in July.
This will be the company's second location on W192 in the tourism corridor (the properties are 8.5 miles apart).
"We have had great results in the Orlando market and realized this was an area of growth and need," Everage said. "We are grateful for the great relationships we have with many of the developers in the market, and look forward to building new ones as we grow in the area. We knew the sellers from other projects in the market so it was a very natural partnership."
Everage expects the company to finish up permitting approvals with Orange County within the next 20 days and begin construction in July. General contractor is Northcoast Construction, which should complete the project 120 days after ground breaks.
The company declined to forecast its investment through buildout.
Looking forward, Panda Restaurant Group sees opportunity in the Orlando market, is still actively pursuing additional sites in the region, and expects to open six to eight more locations over an undefined long-term period, Everage said.
"We look at areas that contain regional shopping centers, strong traffic and good visibility," he added.
Panda Express co-founder and co-CEO Peggy Cherng said last year the company planned to open more than 100 new stores worldwide every year for the foreseeable future. Founded in 1973 in Pasadena, California, the company now has more than 1,700 locations worldwide.