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ORLANDO-Mayor Buddy Dyer and five council members have voted to give suburban Windermere, FL developer Kevin Azzouz a $4 million, 10-year economic incentives package for his planned 30-acre, $120 million, mixed-use Veranda Park project at the 1,850-acre MetroWest community near Universal Orlando.

Orlando elected officials are frequently criticized for handing out multi-million-dollar grants for projects that never get off the drawing board. But this time city officials are confident the Azzouz project will pay off in an increased tax base and other new development, planning department staffers tell GlobeSt.com.

The six-member council voted 5-1 for the package that includes property tax rebates and development fee credits. The incentives deal took a year of on-and-off negotiations between the developer and the city whose primary focus has been in redeveloping the core of the central business district, not in fostering non-CBD undertakings.

Azzouz, a fourtyish, former software developer who reportedly retired as a millionaire in his thirties, couldn’t be reached at GlobeSt.com’s publication deadline. But subcontractors who have worked with Azzouz on area residential ventures tell GlobeSt.com the developer plans to break ground in July on the first of 500 planned condos and an undetermined amount of retail and office space on Hiawassee Road, one of MetroWest’s main arteries.

Preliminary design plans call for two parking garages at an estimated $20 million; a 400-seat amphitheater; a 12-screen movie theater; a boutique hotel; an undetermined number of restaurants; and condos priced in the $150,000 to $1 million range, Azzouz has told the city. Battery-charging stations for electric cars and Segway scooters are also planned. Five sculptured lions from China will grace the Veranda Park entrance.

MetroWest was initially developed in the 1980s by Saudi Arabian investors and has been targeted in the last few years as a vibrant retail development area by national merchants.

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