Kissimmee City Commissioners unanimously approved a 5-year contract with Mosaic Development to buy and redevelop two entire city blocks in the heart of downtown.
City Manager Mike Steigerwald had been negotiating with Mosaic for six months, since the St. Petersburg-based company was the only developer to respond to a request for qualifications in the spring.
"In truth, this is really the culmination of a decade's worth of planning by the city," he told GrowthSpotter.
Other developers came and went, but none could make the project work financially without a larger monetary commitment from the city. Steigerwald said the city's investment in its Lakefront Park, combined with the SunRail expansion to downtown, finally made the property attractive enough to put on the market again.
"We had land, which is an asset many communities don't have," he told commissioners. Mosaic will pay $1.985 million for the 8+ acres. The city will build a 400-space parking garage on the Toho Square site, which is expected to cost about $4 million.
Commissioners wasted little time approving the contract and sealed the agreement by shaking hands with the dozen Mosaic respresentatives who attended the meeting.
"What our staff negotiated was a very fair deal," Mayor Jim Swan said.
Development Services Director Craig Holland said construction could start by mid-to-late 2016 on the apartment complex.
Belinda Kirkegard, the city's economic development director, said the Mosaic project will bring a much-needed vibrancy to downtown Kissimmee.
"This will really bring that 24-hour evening residential component that's really lacking now," she said. "We're predicting about 2,000 folks living in our downtown once this project is built out, and because it's market rate housing it will be people with discretionary dollars to do things downtown."
Mosaic Principal Roxanne Amoroso said the company's investment on the 260-unit apartment complex would be $30 million. The entire project, which also includes condos, townhouses, retail and a community center, has been estimated at $65 million.
"We're very excited to have the opportunity to be a part of this community," she said. "We're going to do everything we can to make you happy."
The contract requires Mosaic (or an assignee) to construct a boutique hotel with at least 120 rooms at the corner of Lakeview and Ruby avenues, along with a mix of shops, restaurants and market-rate housing. It authorizes Mosaic to hire a broker and begin marketing the hotel pad. Amoroso said the company has already retained Daisy Lopez-Cid.
Kirkegard said hotel fills a huge need for downtown, and she expects it to be an important tool for economic development. "What's nice is it's literally across the street from that beautiful lakefront park of ours," she added.
The final product will closely resemble the renderings Mosaic submitted in the spring. The "Florida Vernacular" design style was even written into the contract.
"They did their homework," Steigerwald said. "They came up with a look that's affordable within their budget and also complements what we already have in our downtown."