In an exclusive interview with GrowthSpotter, Magic CEO Rodrigo Cunha and Pininfarina of America's, Matteo De Lise and Paolo Trevisan, respectively Managing Director and Head of Design, discussed their partnership and shared vision for the largest undeveloped parcel on Kissimmee's U.S. 192 corridor.
"It will be something that has never been seen in the U.S.," Cunha said. "It will be sexy. That's the best description for it."
Magic, which recently opened its first Magic Village Resort townhouse development just off U.S. 192, spent two years negotiating to buy the 87-acre site of the future Magic Place by Pininfarina. The $1.5 billion project will include 2,000 residential units spread among six residential buildings, each with a pair of soaring towers. The property is zoned tourist commercial, which allows for apartments, condos, and vacation rentals. Plans also call for 300,000 square feet of retail, restaurants and offices.
"It's very important land – right next to Celebration," Magic President Luis Claudio Sinelli said. "It's the last piece of unspoiled property on the corridor."
The duo said they spent six months courting Pininfarina.
"We wanted to do a branded community because it brings charm and glamour to the project," Cunha said.
They talked to Fendi and Armani, but in those cases they would only be buying a label. With Pininfarina, they're teaming up with "the most important group of designers in the world."
The firm currently has branded residential and hotel projects in various stages of development in Brazil, Italy, Singapore and Miami. De Lise said the Orlando market wasn't on their radar.
"We were not sure at the beginning if Orlando would be willing to accept a more design-oriented community and upgraded approach," De Lise said.
Visiting Magic Village with Cunha helped seal the deal. "We quickly understood that he was indeed committed to higher quality product than what Orlando was used to and to upgrade the development around it," he said.
Magic Place will be its largest design project ever. The team has already developed concepts for the residential towers and will submt a site plan to Osceola County development review in the next few months. The first set of renderings will be released in the spring.
"Pininfarina is doing the master plan, but they're also designing all the buildings, all the landscaping, the decor, the entrances. We hired them for everything," Cunha said.
The project will be built around a large lake that serves as stormwater retention and as an amenity. Trevisan said the property fronting on U.S. 192 W will be a mix of big box retail, banks, restaurants and a chain drug store - all of which is a first for Pininfarina's portfolio.
"Our thinking is it answers the needs of the market, but we'll definitely put our taste on it," he said. "We have a second line of retail going inside the property on the lakefront. On that one we are really trying to create a more boutique retail - a bakery, coffee shops, ice cream - little things but very special."
The first phase will be built on the western portion of the property, which doesn't require wetland mitigation. It will include the first residential building as well as some retail, a wellness center and Magic Development's new 25,000-square-foot office space. They expect to be under construction by 2017 and anticipate a 10-15-year buildout.
Experience Kissimmee CEO D.T. Minich said that bringing a global brand with Pininfarina's cache will help elevate the entire 192 corridor. "What you will see is a domino effect," he said. "When this opens, you're going to have clientele who will be demanding upscale dining and upscale retail."
Magic's first two projects have been primarily marketed and sold to Brazilian investors. Cuhna said the company requires a 50-percent deposit for each unit and is on track to sell out Magic Village 2 by next summer. Cunha said Magic Place will be financed through the sale of EB5 visas, primarily marketed to Chinese investors.
"We're going to sell 150 EB5s at $1 million each," he said. "We're going to start selling them in March. We think it will take about six months to raise the financing."
De Lise said design partnership makes it an attractive investment. "I'm confident the impact of the branding will be exceptional," he said. "It's a great opportunity for Orlando, for Magic Development and also for Pininfarina. For the first time we can take our Pininfarina lifestyle experience and really create a different way for people to enjoy the space."