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ORLANDO-Hoping to capitalize on a re-emerging condo-hotel market, locally based Aqua Development LLC has drawn up conceptual plans for Aqua, a planned $750-million, 2.4-million-sf mixed-use International Drive venture. The project will contain six condo-hotel towers totaling 2,100 units and 130,000 sf of retail, people in a position to know tell GlobeSt.com.

Officials at Aqua Development, an affiliate of locally based strip center developer Unicorp National Developments Inc., couldn’t be reached by GlobeSt.com’s publication deadline to learn a ground-breaking date for the project. However, knowledgeable area brokers tell GlobeSt.com Aqua plans to start construction by November on a model center in the former Hard Rock Vault quarters. The entire condo-hotel-retail project is expected to be completed by 2008.

Funding for the venture is being finalized. A two-acre fountain will front the property where hourly water shows with music and lasers will entertain passersby, brokers intimate with the plans tell GlobeSt.com.

The undertaking would incorporate the existing 21-year-old, 142,000-sf, open-air Mercado shopping center, according to retail brokers familiar with the International Drive tourist corridor. The condo-hotel units are expected to average 800 sf to 1,000 sf and sell for about $550 to $880 per sf, or about $400,000 to $800,000. Individual unit owners could rent out their quarters as regular hotel suites when they are not occupying them, area marketers familiar with the developer’s long-range plans tell GlobeSt.com.

Meanwhile, a Mercado competitor, the nearby 450,000-sf Pointe Orlando open-air shopping center, has started $40 million in renovations and four new restaurants, according to property’s owner, New Plan Excel Realty Trust of New York.

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