Orlando-based Magic Development is planning a
2,000 unit timeshare and retail complex on U.S. Highway
192, west of State Road 535. Construction will begin in
September and includes five buildings between 35-40
“We’re trying to reinvent (Highway) 192,” said company spokesman Hector Lizasuain, a former Osceola County redevelopment director. “We’re definitely going to reinvent the skyline.”
The 375,000 square-foot shopping center should open first, he said. It will front U.S. 192 and be separated from the high-rise resort by a man-made lake with features including a water taxi.
The complex will help revitalize Osceola’s western tourist corridor as the economy improves and tourism rebound safter lean years following 9/11 and the recession, Lizasuain said.
“We’re regaining our foothold in the tourism industry locally and nationally,” Lizasuain said.
Magic Development will focus marketing efforts in Brazil, home to some of the highest-spending tourists who vacation in Central Florida, he said.
The 87-acre site, previously zoned for agricultural uses, abuts another 300-acre parcel that will likely be developed by other investors, Lizasuain said. The company will seek its first county permits to build access roads to the site in June. The large tract of undeveloped land sits across the highway from the Eli’s Orange World, a landmark fruit stand in the western tourist corridor.
“It’s moving. We’re good to go,” said Lizasuain, who left the county to work for Magic.
County Commissioner Mike Harford, whose district includes the proposed development, said the project sounds good on paper. “But, I don’t get excited until I start to see dirt move.
It seems like it would be a good fit,” said Harford, who’s pushing for more eco-tourism in the corridor.
The county’s proximity to Central Florida’s theme parks sparks tourists’ interest, “but we also want to continue building on Osceola being a destination in and of itself,” Harford said.
Local government efforts to stimulate the economy are focused on diversifying the county’s tourism and agriculture industries with high-tech manufacturing and research. The University of Central Florida is building such a facility in Kissimmee, which local officials tout as a “game-changer” for Osceola’s economy.
Officials such as D.T. Minich, head of the county’s tourism arm, said the combination of the old and new industries works well.
“When the tech park moves in it’s really going to help. There’s going to have to be some hotel development on that end of the county,” Minich said.
While technology promises higher paying jobs than traditionally seen in the tourism and agriculture fields, tourism offers promise for local residents who move up the ranks, he said.
“The thing that’s great about the tourism industry is that people can move up. You start as a hotel bellman and you can end up the general manager,” he said.