After eight years of promises, postponements and disappointment, Florida’s Osceola County is finally getting its convention center. On January 12, Austin-based FaulknerUSA handed county officials a "performance deposit" check for $1 million to build the convention center.
FaulknerUSA originally planned to build the convention center on the Osceola Trace, an 850-acre parcel owned by Rob Miller, president and CEO of Main Street Investments Corporation. Miller had originally planned to build the $1.1 billion World Expo Center on the Osceola Trace, which would have made Osceola County home to the nation’s largest convention center, adjoined to 1 million square feet of retail. Miller’s plans fell through in 2001. FaulknerUSA, however, is now negotiating with David Siegel for an adjacent site.
Miller says that the Osceola Trace will be successfully developed, with or without a convention center on top of it. He says that one potential developer is looking at a 60-acre parcel to build as much as 500,000 square feet of retail similar to Waterford Lakes Town Center, a Simon property located in East Orlando, and which includes lifestyle specialty retailers and several big box anchors.
Susan Morris, senior vice president and principal in Orlando office Colliers Arnold Orlando who is representing Morris, says that that shopping center will cater to local demographics: "I really think this is more for the dollar-sensitive buyer. There is no formal shopping where people can go shop and go have a sense of community." Nevertheless, she believes that the development will benefit from convention center traffic, too.