ORLANDO-The $600-million ChampionsGate venture is being born on a strategic development limb–at the four corners of the new Interstate 4/County Road 532 interchange, five miles south of the front door of Walt Disney World.

Based on acreage, the undertaking will be the second largest resort destination in Florida next to the 30,000-acre Disney empire in Osceola and Orange counties.

The project’s formal unveiling Tuesday at one of the two already-completed 18-hole golf courses at the ChampionsGate site coincided with an announcement by Irving, TX-based Omni Hotels to open a $150 million, 732-room asset by year end 2002. Ground-breaking is scheduled for spring 2001. The estimated hard construction cost is $92 million.

Developing the entire project are two big industry players–Apollo Real Estate Advisors of New York and Houston-based Rida Development Corp. The property owner is Rida Associates, a limited partnership headed by Ira and Jacob Mitzner.

“This is not another industry-like cliché,” Ira Mitzner tells GlobeSt.com, “but this project will be in a league by itself.”

Complementing the Omni Hotel and the two golf courses will be 75,000 sf of retail; a 50,000-sf office building anchored by Meadowbrook Golf Co.; and a 372-unit luxury apartment complex.

At buildout, ChampionsGate will have a total 4,136 hotel rooms; three golf courses; 426,000 sf of retail; 1,636 resort villas/apartments; 148,104 sf of office; and 3,000 parking spaces.

Designing the Omni Hotel are RTKL Associates, the project architect; and Looney & Associates, the interior architect. Both are Dallas-based firms. The four-star hotel plans to offer 70,000 sf in 37 meeting rooms; 26,000-sf and 20,000-sf ballrooms; a 10,000-sf spa; and six restaurants.

The developers are bullish on the retail potential at ChampionsGate. They project sales will grow by 72% in the 1995-2005 period.

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