Local government officials recap week at ICSC RECon

Osceola County's W192 Development Authority and city officials from Ocoee and Orlando joined 1,200 exhibitors last week in Las Vegas for the world's largest real estate convention.

Hosted by the International Conference of Shopping Centers (ICSC), RECon annually attracts 37,000 commercial real estate professionals, landlords and developers.

W192 DA Executive Director David Buchheit told GrowthSpotter the conference gave Kissimmee's tourism corridor the type of exposure that can pay dividends down the road.

"We got to talk to a lot of brokers, a lot of investors and quite a few chains that aren't in the region now," Buchheit said on Friday. "It's a chance to tell our story and share all the positive momentum that's happening here on W192. For us, it's not so much about closing deals as it is about getting people here for a site visit."

He said several developers with active retail projects on the tourism corridor, such as Encore Retail Centers and Elevation Development, also exhibited. 

"The owners of the Roomba Inn were there getting tenants for their new shopping center," Buchheit said. 

Ontario-based CTN Developments has started demolishing the Roomba Inn to build a new Hilton Home2 Suites and 60,000-square-foot shopping center next to Old Town. 

The City of Orlando has had a growing presence at RECon in recent years, and last week had an island booth with three leading staff members on hand from its Community Redevelopment Agency and Downtown Development Board.

Orlando has nearly $5 billion in various stages of development activity proposed or under construction in its downtown currently, and more than 80,000 employees now populate downtown each weekday.

Its residential unit count has grown close to 80 percent since 2000, with more than 12,300 residential units available, a 95 percent occupancy rate, and another 2,824 under construction or proposed, according to the city's latest data. 

"We have been going to ICSC RECon for a number of years," said David Barilla, assistant director of the CRA and DDB. "This show was interesting, because typically we see various segments of real estate drawing a lot of interest. But (this year) it was full circle interest in all sectors of development ... and was about the overall energy in the market, and how downtown is performing." 

Barilla could reference a number of retailers and developments now in downtown Orlando that stemmed from a contact made at past ICSC RECon trade shows. 

Family Dollar's opening of a store in 2013 at 918 W. Colonial Drive in Parramore was one Barilla credits to a RECon introduction. Dunkin Donuts' two locations in downtown and Walgreens' opening in May 2017 at S. Orange Avenue and Church Street were prompted in some way, he believes, from meetings at past trade shows.

And reaching back nearly 10 years, Barilla recalls RECon meetings with Choice Hotels officials that tuned them in to a 0.63-acre lot at the corner of E. Washington Street and Rosalind Avenue. 

Choice bought the land in 2010, rezoned it in 2011 for a hotel but the project languished in the years that followed. In 2017, a new joint venture of developers stepped in to buy the land, and are now pursuing construction plan approval to break ground on a 155-key Cambria Suites. 

The City of Ocoee did not have a booth at RECon, but sent multiple economic development staff to meet with tenant and owner's representatives, and promote redevelopment opportunities that include properties at Colonial Drive and Maguire Road, land at Colonial and Bluford Avenue, and infill at the West Oaks Mall.

"The Ocoee City Commission will soon be discussing a targeted incentive program to help lure certain types of users, including new dining and entertainment operators to the 50 West area," said Angel de la Portilla, economic development consultant for Ocoee and president of Central Florida Strategies, Inc

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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