Central Florida Business Briefs - Sept. 2006
? Mona Lisa Hotels & Residences is building its first U.S. property, a 240-suite condo/hotel set to open in mid-2007 at I-4 and U.S. Highway 192. Mona Lisa at Celebration is one of about 20 the French company's U.S. affiliate plans to build nationwide. The hotel will be built in neoclassical architecture.
? A $6,000 one-year survey expected to wrap up later this year will measure the arts community's economic impact on Orange, Seminole, Osceola, Volusia, Brevard and Polk counties as well as Orlando and Winter Park. The survey is funded by myregion.org and the municipalities and is part of a national project by Americans for the Arts, which is polling audiences at more than 200 arts and cultural events in each county. Results will be used to increase visibility and funding for the region's arts industry.
? Work is scheduled to start in 2007 on Plaza Collina , a 1-million-sq.-ft. shopping center being built along State Road 50 by the Goodman Co. of West Palm Beach and Phonecia Development of Orlando. Completion is scheduled for spring of 2008.
? Citizens Communications received more than 1,300 applicants in its first call for workers to fill about 500 jobs at its new call center. The Connecticut company offers telephone, television and internet service in mostly rural and small-town areas and is operating under its brand name Frontier at its 40,000-sq.-ft. facility on U.S. Highway 17-92.
? Cherry Lake Tree Farm , which employs 250 at its site in southern Lake County and three satellite sites, is planning to develop part of its 1,083-acre property into 2,441 single-family homes, 462 multifamily units, 320 affordable housing units, a school, a town center and more than 200 acres of parks and trails. Plans also call for the farm to more than double its nursery production, partly because of a new distribution center and office complex that will be developed on the property.
? Harris Corp. (NYSE-HRS) has received a $169-million contract to build handheld vehicle radio systems for the U.S. Army's Communications and Electronics Command.
? Bankshares Inc. , a 10-year-old central Florida institution with $205.6 million in assets, has agreed to be acquired by California-based Castle Creek Capital. The bank will retain its name and its three branches in Melbourne, Suntree/Viera and Titusville.
? The county commission has approved $5.3 million in incentives to entice Orlando-based Darden Restaurants (NYSE-DRI) to stay in central Florida and expand its headquarters. The company is expected to add 900 high-level jobs at the facility by 2020 with an average salary of $72,254.
? SquareD Co. , an Illinois-based electrical products distributor, is building a U.S. prototype of what it plans to make a national chain of retail stores showcasing lighting products for luxury homes. The store will be near the Mall at Millenia.
? Orlando architects Cuhaci & Peterson has relocated 106 of its employees to its new Baldwin Park headquarters. The firm reported record revenue of $6 million for the first half of this year.
? Colonial Properties Trust , a real estate investment trust that developed Lake Mary's Colonial Town Park, has purchased 712-acre Randal Park near the Central Florida Greenway (SR 417) and the Beach Line Expressway (SR 528) for $39.5 million. Plans call for developing Colonial Town Park at Randal Park , a community of single-family homes, luxury apartments, office space and retail.
? Developer Demetree Properties has completed the design for The Quad at College Park , a $100-million, 21-acre office and retail center next to Edgewater High School. The Evans Group of Orlando designed the complex, which will include 500 condominium units, two concealed parking decks, rooftop amenities such as swimming pools and eventually possibly a YMCA and an Orange County library branch.
? Locally based Tex-Mex restaurant chain Tijuana Flats is expanding into eastern North Carolina after signing its 20th franchisee.
? The Orange County Regional History Center has been accepted as an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, which will allow traveling collections from the world-renowned destination in Washington, D.C., to be displayed in Orlando. Earlier this year, the history center received coveted accreditation by the American Association of Museums, a distinction held by fewer than 5% of all museums nationwide.
? Bonnier, a Swedish media company with $2.5 billion in annual revenue, purchased a 49% stake in World Publications , a watersports and travel publisher based in Winter Park, for an estimated $70 million.