Margaritaville redesigns 50-foot entrance signs to look more tropical

The developers of Kissimmee's new Margaritaville Resort went back to the drawing board to win approval from the county's new Architectural Review Board (ARB) for a pair of 50-foot high entertainment signs on W192.

Encore Capital Management won ARB approval this week for the redesigned signs, which now better reflect the Key West-style architectural theme of the resort. John Adams, a planner for Rj Whidden & Associates, chairs the ARB and works as a consultant for Encore on the Margaritaville project.

"The initial signs were more contemporary looking design," Adams said. "And the architect member of the board pointed out that the intent of the code was to tie in design to the features of the entertainment venue."

Osceola County's W192 Development Authority established the ARB this summer specifically to address cases involving entertainment signs. Qualifying venues are the only businesses on the tourism corridor that are exempt from the redevelopment district's strict sign regulations

Old Town was the first business to install an entertainment sign this year, but Margaritaville is the first to go through the ARB process. 

Encore turned to Sensory Interactive, Inc., which specializes in large-format display installations in places like New York's Times Square, American Airlines Arena in Dallas and the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. 

Margaritaville Project Manager Jim Bagley had described the first design as "iconic" and "eye-catching." But the ARB thought they lacked the laid-back, island vibe and tropical theme that would be prevalent within the resort. 

Adams, who participated in the discussion but abstained from voting, said he thought it was a profound observation. 

"He said these are very nice looking, but these could be in front of the Mall of America," Adams said. "That was appreciated by Jim Bagley. He agreed, and he went back to his sign professionals and made a strong effort to incorporate that theme."

They maintain the same height and scale, but replicate building materials that are commonly found in tropical climates, such as shiplap, beadboard and latticework. Both are capped with finials and surrounded by palms and tropical plants.

The pink and green color schemes were scrapped for a unified turquoise and white palette. 

"The blue color was added to tie it into the water theme," Adams said.

The hotel sign would feature a 384-square-foot high definition LED screen on both sides that can broadcast video or even stream live concerts from the resort. The shopping district sign has a 144-square-foot LED screen. These types of signs represent a major investment by the developer, sometimes in the millions of dollars. And they become landmarks on the tourism corridor.

"It’s not up to the ARB to say I like it or I don’t like it," Adams said. The board includes members with expertise in their respective fields: architecture, planning, engineering and sign design. 

"It’s critical that 20 years from now, they’re not outdated," Adams said. "That can happen if you go with a more contemporary design. But you can go down to Key West and you see latticework and beadboard. You’ll see that again as they rebuild."

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