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THE SQUARE:

Unicorp is the developer. They are the company developing the Dellagio project off of SLR. There a a few tenants over there already and there's a few more buildouts underway. I have a feeling they won't do anything with the former Mercado property for a while until they have a majority of the Dellagio leased. That must have been a huge expenditure; that place is gorgeous.

Edited by JRS1
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  • 3 weeks later...

I noticed several comments regarding the upgrade. I believe that I have addressed most of the concerns brought up by users. The layout for threads is now what we had previously. Loading times should also be greatly improved (even faster than what we had with the older version of the site). If you guys could comment I would greatly appreciate it as I do want to address concerns that folks have.

Keep in mind that I've gotten dozens of e-mails and PM's commenting on the new site in a positive light thus I realize that change is easier for some. I do want to address concerns, but keep in mind that I simply will not be able to please everyone. I will do my best however. :)

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  • 5 months later...

I drove by The Peabody last week and they had the spire lit up. It was a very elegant shade of blue and looked real nice from I-4. Had the chance to pass by again last night and this time I had my camera, but unfortunately the lights were off. I'm sure they'll have them back up soon.

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  • 1 month later...

Driving down I-4 the other day I noticed two tower cranes near the intersection with 192. The structure looks to be around four maybe five stories right now. Any idea what is going up there and how tall this might be? Can't imagine it would be much taller than what it is so far, but does add a little bit of density for the area.

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Driving down I-4 the other day I noticed two tower cranes near the intersection with 192. The structure looks to be around four maybe five stories right now. Any idea what is going up there and how tall this might be? Can't imagine it would be much taller than what it is so far, but does add a little bit of density for the area.

Celebration Health (Florida Hospital) is expanding.

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Love it or hate it, Celebration has changed the entire dynamic of the West 192 corridor. You'd think Osceola County would look to this as an example of how to grow the decaying East section of 192.

I would imagine it will come, but I think the zeitgeist of US192 has yet to be transformed. When WDW finally completes the second half of Pop Century (now renamed Art of Animation), that will be another couple of thousand rooms competing in the value segment. Needless to say, regardless of the ecomnomy or whatever is going on, Disney will always do whatever it takes to put heads in beds, and I see no way for most of the motels on 192 to thrive in that situation. The heyday of US192 was when WDW first opened and there was only one way on to property for guests, via US 192. Back then, that was the closest you could get without staying at WDW. Once Epcot opened and a second entrance was created, that advantage was gone forever. The development of I-Drive, LBV, Universal and perhaps most importantly the creation of the All Star resorts all chipped away at US192's reason to exist as a tourism location. Further, Osceola County has never really been able to expand much beyond mom and pop tourism, which is the most cyclical segment of the industry.

At the same time, there has always been an "us vs. them" between Celebration and the other folks down there, and so I think that, despite all evidence to the contrary, the locals have been slow to embrace another vision for US192. Will the area take Celebration as a lead and develop a post-tourism approach to development similarly based? Or, alternatively, should the existing mom and pops be converted to sorely needed affordable housing for locals working in the industry? It's an open question, I think, but one I've seen before.

A few years back in Anaheim, Disneyland sought to expand and to work with the city to create a more upscale vision for the area. Despite the fact that Disneyland is the economic engine for Orange County (CA) - and for those unfamiliar with the area it's right in the middle of town with no buffer, unlike WDW - a move developed to use the political process to build affordable housing right next door. It took a few years to finally sort things out in Disney's favor (without really solving the affordable housing issue).

How will all that play out in Kissimmee? I'm not sure, and I don't really have a dog in that fight since I don't live there. It will be fascinating to watch, however.

Edited by spenser1058
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Nice post.

I was born and raised until a young age in a small town North of Boston, until my family moved to Kissimmee where we rented for a few years (around 1989) before moving to Orlando. I remember a time, through the 90s, when 192 was a thriving corridor from the Osceola Mall westward to the main entrance to Disney. Sure, it was a cheaper, less glamorous alternative to I-Drive, but is was also a quirky and fun alternative -- Old Town, the big Orange, the tacky t-shirt shops, Arabian Nights / Medieval Times, the air boats, and this new strange place called Celebration. It was a slice of Americana, Florida style.

It seems at this point though, for those reasons stated above as well as a lot of socioeconomic, transportation, and cultural changes, this corridor will never regain it's former glory.

That said, I think it could do much better then even it's heyday with some zoning changes and some key mixed-use development:

1) Old Town: Structurally and physically, Old Town is already a bona fide town center development. It's essentially new urbanism before new urbanism existed. In recent years Old Town has shifted it's focused from less family friendly to more of a local bar scene. Why not extend upon this but turning this whole area into a West 192 town center development. Redevelop the property to include apartment housing options that cater specifically to tourism industry young professionals and build out that main street through Old Town with more bars, clubs, and every day type destinations. Provide a larger Lynx inter modal terminal on site that brings people directly to Disney, and other areas with easy access. Create a zoning bubble around the "Old Town" corridor that gives high density residential development tax breaks. Ultimately, over time, Old Town becomes a nice, residential area that would be both appealing to the younger crowd seeking housing in the area (instead of say, Poinciana or further into Kissimmee)as well as tourists can still come for the urban benefits and enjoy the area.

2) Osceola Mall Area: Redevelop the mall into a mixed use area that features residential and office development. There is a plan to build a larger Lynx inter modal station on property. Perhaps they can even redevelop this area with a new charter school. Make this an attractive, walkable area.

By focusing on Old Town and Osceola Square Mall, these two hubs along the 192 corridor focus be the focus of the most high density development. Then, allow for urban, mid density development between these two hubs to build up over time.

I think this would change the entire dynamic of the 192 corridor.

Further East along 192, at the intersection of OBT (downtown Kissimmee), they have been planning a redevelopment strategy for many years: http://www.redevelopvinestreet.com/

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I find it kind of funny to be discussing Celebration versus Tourism in the 192 corridor, as I, and I think many others, tend to think of Celebration as pretty, well, touristy.

192's heyday was a few decades ago. It isn't just what Disney has done to 192, but how tourism in Central Floria has changed. Tourism in the Orlando area is so focused on the long-distance traveler that the low-key operations simply don't have the customers to stay in business. People now go to DISNEY, they don't go to Central Florida.

It's kind of a tricky situation. To make the corridor thrive, you either have to change it's character, or bring back the people. I suppose the best idea is a combination of both. A certain amount of cleanup has to happen, particularly in the perceived safety area. At the same time, you dont want to lose what character the corridor has that makes it a little different and a place to visit.

One thing that has to happen is better transportation. Particularly for tourists, a decent tram or light rail line would make a huge difference. Make it an alternative to being stuck in traffic and people will spend more time on the strip. The other thing is more attractions. This is of course tricky because you need people to bring the attractions that will bring people. Old Town is a start, and you do need areas like those. But you also need other unusual experiences that will get people down there. Playing up the air boats might be a start. And while it is not right on the strip, perhaps some kind of boatrides on Lake Toho. Whatever they choose, however, it has to have a kind of Kissimmee signature to it - can't be too upscale, kind of needs to be a bit plasticy, but needs to be interesting.

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^Celebration was "touristy" when it begin, primarily because people were drawn to the concept of new urbanism and a Disney built community.

Now, it is home is over 9,000 residents and a fairly decent restaurant/bar scene. Three schools, a hospital, offices, some retail, and a University. Tourists come to check it out, but it's much more than that. It sounds like a good example for the whole of the corridor.

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I know a lot of places that have over 9k residents, schools, retail, and hospitals. They are also very touristy places. I think Celebration may be a little more than a tourist attraction now, which I think it was when it first opened, but it still has a very strong touristy vacation resort feel to it. I am not saying this in itself is wrong, but I think expecting the whole corridor to become that is really just extending the Disney resort property down the road. 192 needs to be more than that - different from that. Why play second fiddle?

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I am not suggesting that the entire 192 corridor should become Celebration -- what I am saying is that it should embrace urban residential development, specifically affordable housing for Osceola residents who work in the tourism industry. Celebration is not a sustainable model mainly because it is much too expensive for the average homeowner or even leaser, that said, the principles behind Celebration are sound ones, and deserve recognition.

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