Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.

ORLANDO-After pledging to underwrite $100 million of infrastructure costs at the planned $1.1 billion, hotel-retail-convention center World Expo venture, Osceola County commissioners have killed the project after developer Rob Miller missed his Oct. 29 deadline to come up with a private financial backer.

Miller had six months to find the money. The location is 20 miles south of Downtown Orlando.

The county now plans to build its own $35 million, 140,000-sf convention center and is expected to issue bids before the end of year, county staffers tell GlobeSt.com on condition of anonymity. Legally, Miller could bid on that project, too, staffers tell GlobeSt.com.

Miller couldn’t be reached at GlobeSt.com’s publication deadline for comment on his future plans. He has previously not denied having $70 million of his own money committed to the World Expo vision.

He also hasn’t denied having a $40 million personal mortgage on the project. Miller is a former car dealer who made his money in South Florida developing shopping centers for Kmart Corp.

But the one element of the four-year planned project he has never been able to assemble is the financing. In April of this year, he cut a deal with Osceola County that could have made him a billionaire if the World Expo enterprise succeeded, brokers familiar with the deal’s timeline tell GlobeSt.com on condition of anonymity.

He convinced the county into setting up a special taxing district that would have issued bonds to pay for an estimated $100 million worth of roads at World Expo located at Osceola Parkway near State Road 535, the back road to Walt Disney World.

The bonds would have been repaid by Miller from special property taxes assessed on hotels and retail after they were built and operating. Under the deal, if Miller didn’t pay the taxes, the county would seize the developers’ prime land, estimated at 500 acres and valued at $100 million or $200,000 per acre ($4.60 per sf).

But Miller also had a plum in the deal. He would have received up to $62 million back over an unspecified period of time from tourist taxes generated by the project after it was operating.

Miller had counted on the first phase of the 10-year undertaking breaking ground by December of this year. It would have comprised a 1.2 million-sf World Expo Center; a 1,200-room Hyatt hotel; and a 142,000-sf Osceola County Convention Center.

The final phase would have entailed 1.2 million sf office; 1.1 million sf of retail; 900 timeshare units; expanding the World Expo Center to 3.6 million sf; and increasing the hotel room count to 9,000.

Local Osceola County government insiders tell GlobeSt.com the project has been controversial and doubtful from the beginning because it never had the firm financing local governments like to see in a venture where taxpayer funds may have to be used, even temporarily.

The State Attorney’s office for Orange and Osceola counties unsuccessfully sued the county to block the project, alleging Osceola County commissioners were pledging taxpayers’ money to finance a private enterprise.

Want to continue reading?
Become a Free ALM Digital Reader.

Once you are an ALM digital member, you’ll receive:

  • Unlimited access to GlobeSt and other free ALM publications
  • Access to 15 years of GlobeSt archives
  • Your choice of GlobeSt digital newsletters and over 70 others from popular sister publications
  • 1 free article* every 30 days across the ALM subscription network
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM events and publications

*May exclude premium content
Already have an account?

GlobeSt. NET LEASE Spring 2021Event

This conference brings together the industry's most influential & knowledgeable real estate executives from the net lease sector.

Get More Information

GlobeSt. NET LEASE Awards 2021Event

These awards honor the industry's most influential and knowledgeable real estate executives from the net lease sector.

Get More Information


Join GlobeSt

Don't miss crucial news and insights you need to make informed commercial real estate decisions. Join GlobeSt.com now!

  • Free unlimited access to GlobeSt.com's trusted and independent team of experts who provide commercial real estate owners, investors, developers, brokers and finance professionals with comprehensive coverage, analysis and best practices necessary to innovate and build business.
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM and GlobeSt events.
  • Access to other award-winning ALM websites including ThinkAdvisor.com and Law.com.

Already have an account? Sign In Now
Join GlobeSt

Copyright © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.