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Xero Gravity developer eyes Intram land for resort in Osceola, but clock is ticking

Xero Gravity developer eyes Intram land for resort in Osceola, but clock is ticking
Northeast of the intersection of W. Osceola Parkway and SR 535, the parcels outlined in purple have been assembled by Intram Investments, and the parcel highlighted in yellow could be the focal point for Xero Gravity Resort's developers. (Osceola County Property Appraiser)

With developers of Xero Gravity Action Sports & Entertainment Resort broadening their land search to Orlando and as far east as Daytona Beach, CEO Larry Walshaw is still actively pursuing an 80-acre tract in Osceola County, this time within Intram Investments' 238-acre "Sunrise" assemblage at the intersection of W. Osceola Parkway and SR 535.

But the clock is ticking on Walshaw to raise private capital to buy that land, something he conceded Wednesday has been a slow boil.

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"We have some interested parties working with us to purchase that (Intram) property," Walshaw told GrowthSpotter. "We have also opened our funding strategy to include more interested individuals from the Orlando market.

"Prevously, our main push was for large entities like pension funds, REITs and foreign (investors)," he continued. "We've found over the past six months that there seems to be a limited supply of large equity dollars in the market, especially with what has happened in China's economy. So now, we're looking again for $1 million to $5 million investment partners."

Rashid A. Khatib, president and CEO of Intram, said Walshaw's extreme sports resort would flourish on his property southeast of Walt Disney World. But with other retail and multi-family builders already lining up with LOIs for Intram, 80 acres may soon be unavailable to Walshaw.

"I think his concept would succeed in this part of town, as we don't have a big attraction this far south of Lake Buena Vista. But Larry's challenge is capitalization," Khatib told GrowthSpotter on Wednesday. "With three traffic (signal) entries to our property, he may find it easier to raise that capital for well-trafficked location like this. But until he does, we have to move forward with other offers."

Those include an LOI in place for 34 acres to Virginia-based developer, builder and property manager The Breeden Company, which could build up to 1,000 apartments in phases.

Intram is also considering an offer for 10 acres from a movie theater chain, Khatib said, which would complement the company's own planned 34-acre shopping center Sunrise City.

"We have the 80 acres there for Larry, but if we sign everyone we are already talking with for that property, we won't have an option left for him," he said.

Intram is pursuing LOIs with potential retail users for Sunrise City, and has submitted mass-grading plans for county review, GrowthSpotter reported in mid-September. County permits for mass-grading and wetland fill permits from the water management district should be acquired before year's end.

Walshaw said in mid-July his Xero Gravity team had begun seeking alternative sites of 75 acres or more for the project in Orange County, and as far west as Tampa.

He said Wednesday his group has been actively studying three sites since August in Osceola (Intram's Sunrise), Orlando and Daytona Beach.

"We've been approached by a strong entity in Daytona that likes our business model for that market. With the traffic counts (at that unnamed location), we feel it would work well there," he said. "But with Orlando and Osceola having 62 million tourists per year, you can't discount that."

Pegged as a $309 million development, the next stage for Xero Gravity Actions Sports & Entertainment Resort must be a land purchase. At $20 million or more for 75-plus acres, the purchase must come directly from one or more well-capitalized investors in the project, Walshaw said.

The resort had been tentatively planned for a 75-acre site off U.S. 192 near the intersection with SR 535, a former wooded area just east of the Target store at 4795 U.S. 192. Xero Gravity signed a purchase agreement in October 2014 with a land owner affiliate of Westgate Resorts, and made a $50,000 deposit on the site.

Walshaw said Wednesday this property has been scrapped, after due diligence found that a third or more of it was wetlands, with other low-lying area that would have required significant fill.

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Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at bmoser@growthspotter.com, (407) 420-5685 or @bobmoser333. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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