Project programming and a budget associated with the design criteria package have been completed within the past week, so FAMRC's program and budget are now aligned, said Pete Pace, county director of construction and asset manager.
His team and FAMRC lead investment partner UCF will review that program and budget over the next few weeks, then move on to schematic designs.
Site prep work like mass grading, rough grading and roadway grading is complete, Pace said. Local utility authorities are will working on utility infrastructure, but Pace expects foundation work to start in September on the 100,000-square-foot facility, which he says should be fully operational by February 2017.
UCF, Osceola County and other partners behind FAMRC were finalists for a $110 million federal contract for photonics research, which was awarded on July 27 to the University of Rochester and the State University of New York Polytechnic Institute.
Plans for FAMRC won't be sidetracked after losing out on the federal contract, said Jeff Jones, strategic initiatives director for Osceola County.
"Isn't it great that a project in Osceola County can go head to head with what are essentially some of the largest facilities of this kind in the country?" he said. "That it went down to the wire just demonstrates the competitiveness of (FAMRC). We are playing on the big stage, and that's worth keeping in the back of everyone's mind."
The Osceola County Commission voted in February to approve up to $67.5 million in bonds to fund the project. The county has planned to invest $87 million for construction and equipment, and contribute nearly $138 million overall.
UCF has said it will provide $10 million from non-public sources to aid construction and $7 million more in faculty hires. The facility will be leased and operated by UCF for $1 per year over 30 years.