|By Daphne Sashin, The Orlando Sentinel,
Fla.McClatchy-Tribune Business News
Jul. 12, 2006 - KISSIMMEE -- Nearly three years after the Hyatt Orlando closed its doors, consultants for the new owner vowed to turn the property into "a landmark in Central Florida."
The Landmark Sun and Spa Resort, at the northeast corner of Interstate 4 and U.S. Highway 192, will feature a 378-room hotel with a 160,000-square-foot conference center and a three-story waterfall. It will also have five high-rise condominium-hotel buildings, with a lagoon running through the site. The buildings will feature glass and metal panels, materials not commonly used locally, Orlando architect Timothy Aebie said.
"There's certainly nothing like this in Central Florida currently," Aebie said Tuesday, sharing the latest designs with tourism officials at a lunch put on by the Kissimmee-Osceola County Chamber of Commerce. "We wanted to create something that has staying power."
The Landmark resort is the latest example of an emerging luxury hotel market in Osceola, which historically has catered to bargain-seeking tourists. Another is developer Rob Miller's $4 billion Legacy Resort, which recently broke ground off Osceola Parkway and is projected to generate more than $80 million a year in tax proceeds for the county.
"It's just what this county needs," County Commissioner Bill Lane said after the presentation. The two projects would be "good venues to draw crowds, and we'll make a lot of money," he added.
Meanwhile Tuesday, a French hotel chain broke ground on another luxury condominium-hotel, opposite the Hyatt site at the southeast corner of I-4 and U.S. 192. The Mona Lisa at Celebration, one of more than 20 condo-hotel projects in the works for Central Florida, is set to open next summer. Nearly 85 percent of the 240 units are already under contract, at prices ranging from $300,000 to $550,000, according to the company.
Construction is scheduled to start on the Landmark toward the end of next year and take five to 10 years to finish, a consultant on the project said.
The Legacy project could have about 7,500 vacation homes, a championship golf course and a "five-star" hotel that Miller said he is close to announcing.
The ground was being cleared "as we speak," Miller said. "You'll see a lot of cows have been replaced by bulldozers."
Daphne Sashin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 407-931-5944.
Copyright (c) 2006, The Orlando Sentinel, Fla.
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