A South Florida racing enthusiast has a purchase contract on one of the largest undeveloped parcels on Kissimmee's W192 tourism corridor, and plans to build a $100 million tourist attraction.
Orlando Motorsports Park founder Andy Bardar first shared his vision with GrowthSpotter last September for 217 acres at the southwest corner of the W192-S.R. 429 Beltway interchange. That land has been on the market for $13.75 million.
"We're excited about it," Bardar said. "The big news is that we're under contract. It was a long, hard road to get to this point."
Bardar said the project budget has doubled from his original $50 million estimate, but he's still committed to building the first phase as soon as he gets permits.
"The scale grew," he said. "There were some environmental issues that increased the cost, but the other factor was that we decided to go bigger."
The first phase would include 95,000 square feet of retail and dining. Everything will be automotive-themed, Bardar said. A conceptual site plan now shows two completely separate test tracks -- one for tourists and a second, larger track for private club members.
Both tracks will be designed by Tilke Engineers & Architects, generally recognized as the top racetrack designer in the world. The "fun track" would be about a mile long, while the club track would be between 2.3 and 2.5 miles and include more than a dozen turns allowing top speeds of around 120 mph on the straightaways.
"The club members will never have to drive on the tourist tract unless they want to," he said.
Bardar said he'll be interviewing architects this week. He's working with VHB for site planning, and CPH Vice President Amy Daly is his environmental consultant. The property has an active Army Corps of Engineers permit for retail development, but Daly would need to resubmit with the new site plan.
Bardar and his wife, Laurie, own a successful motor coach and limousine company and are self-financing the project. He also owns The HPDE, which offers racing and driving instruction at Homestead-Miami Speedway and other locations.
The facility will provide a selection of high-performance cars for customers to drive, including a Ferrari, Porsche, Audi, Lamborghini, McLaren, Corvette and Ford Mustang Shelby. "The growth of our fleet of vehicles will be directly impacted by the feedback from our customers," Badar said.
Plans also call for a half-mile go-cart track along W192 in the northeast corner of the site. "We anticipate having go-carts for everyone -- family carts, high-performance carts, and kid carts," Bardar said.
A townhome community for premier club members would be constructed on the southern portion of the property, along Funie Steed Road. Bardar said the community would have up to 40 units built over multiple phases.
Bardar said the park would feature a state-of-the-art amenities package akin to a country club for car enthusiasts. What makes the Orlando project unique in the industry would be its location on the tourism corridor and within a major metropolitan area. The W192 site is already zoned for Commercial Tourism, so the track would be an allowable use.
County zoning officials told Bardar the use might be allowed, but the business would still have to comply with the county's noise ordinance or apply for a variance.
The concept includes a sound wall along the western edge of the club course to offer a noise buffer for the adjoining neighborhoods. On Friday, Bardar filed an application with Osceola County for the noise variance.
In the application, VHB Planning Director Jim Hall indicated that the club course would be shifted 700 feet to the east in order to reduce the impact to the neighboring CLC Encantada Resort. "The client is sacrificing some driving experience to avoid and minimize noise levels leaving the site," he wrote.
The project is just south of Orange Lake Resorts and right across the beltway from the $900 million Margaritaville Resort, which is slated to open in 2018.