Central Business Briefs - Dec. 2004
KISSIMMEE -- The Bass Anglers Sportsman Society (BASS) will move its headquarters from Mobile, Ala., to Osceola County by the spring after Gov. Jeb Bush agreed to provide about $480,000 in state money for the move. In addition, BASS will get $120,000 in incentives from the county. The move, two years in the making, means about 120 jobs.
LAKE MARY -- NCR Corp. has acquired Kinetics Inc. for $26 million. Kinetics, which supplies self-service technology to airlines and restaurants, will continue to operate as an independent division. Employment is unaffected.
MELBOURNE -- Harris Corp. (NYSE-HRS) agreed to buy Encoda Systems Holdings, a software and service supplier for the broadcast media, for $340 million. Encoda is a privately held Denver company that employs 700 and has annual revenue of $124 million.
ORLANDO -- U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Karen Jennemann approved a bid by Chicago-based LaSalle Bank to take over the Mercado shopping center on International Drive, defeating a bid by Mercado operator Christian Wolffer to retain the property. The 164,153-sq.-ft. property entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2002. The bank planned to auction the property.
AirTran Airways (NYSE-AAI) has made a bid for bankrupt ATA Airlines' Chicago hub. The $87.6 million tentative deal includes 14 gates at Midway airport. Independence Air, based in Washington, D.C., launched daily non-stop service between Orlando International Airport and Knoxville, Tenn., and Columbia, S.C.
The operators of Parliament House, a longtime gay-oriented motel and nightclub, have announced plans to build Orlando's first gay-oriented timeshare resort, The Gardens. The 164-room art deco resort on Rock Lake will include outdoor water sports, retail shops, spa, fitness center and a business center. RCI, the nation's largest timeshare exchange, said it has signed a six-year agreement with the resort.
Agere Systems plans to close its 1.1 million-sq.-ft. computer chip plant at the end of 2005 if it cannot find a buyer for the business. The closure threatens the plant's 600 workers -- a third of the workforce it had at its peak in 2000. The company says the plant's technology is outdated and that it planned to focus its efforts on chip design rather than manufacturing. MEDai Inc. launched a joint venture with MedPlus Inc. of Mason, Ohio, that will use MEDai's predictive modeling methodologies with a MedPlus product line that gives doctors access to patient-specific clinical data. MEDai's product, Risk Navigator Clinical, aims to identify high-risk patients through both lab results and administrative claims data.
Historic Creations and Royal Palm Homes have partnered to buy a six-acre tract at the corner of Colonial Drive and Orange Avenue downtown for $6.7 million. They plan to build a major mixed-use development. Plans for the property have not been finalized but are likely to include high-end residential condominiums and retail space. The two companies have already partnered to build The Sanctuary, an 18-story luxury condo downtown.
Walt Disney World reached a tentative three-year contract agreement with its largest union, the 20,000-member Service Trades Council, that calls for 4% raises for some of its workers and bonuses and smaller raises for others. The deal also raises healthcare premiums.
Boy band impresario Lou Pearlman and his Trans Continental Records were ordered to pay his former attorneys, J. Cheney Mason and William Pringle, $15 million after the lawyers said he reneged on the terms of an agreement to handle Pearlman's litigation against the Back Street Boys and 'N Sync in the 1990s.
Robert Keyes has filed a federal lawsuit in Orlando against Disney, charging the company with stealing his 1991 idea for a "standby" line at theme parks when it created its FastPass system. Keyes, a Tennessee resident, says he described the system in a letter to Disney in 1991 but received a rejection letter about a month later. Disney introduced the automated FastPass in 1999 and patented it in 2001. Keyes says he learned of the system a year ago when watching a Travel Channel show that featured FastPass.
ORMOND BEACH -- Businessman Bruce Rossmeyer plans to build a $40-million project near the intersection of Interstate 95 and north U.S. 1. Phase one of the hurricane-delayed project calls for a Harley Davidson dealership, 35,000 square feet of retail space, a 45-unit condo hotel and an outdoor bandshell. Initial opening is now planned for the July 4 weekend.
OSCEOLA COUNTY -- Pulte Homes Corp. says its Del Webb division will purchase land in ChampionsGate for a $200-million community of luxury condominiums, townhouses and carriage homes. The investment brings the total commitment by builders in the 1,500-acre ChampionsGate development to more than $500 million.
SANFORD -- Vertical Aviation Technologies is planning to add 20 people to its seven-person staff by the end of the year as it expands production of its Hummingbird four-seat helicopter kit. Company President Brad Clark plans to have the helicopter recertified by the Federal Aviation Administration so it can be sold as a completed helicopter as well as a kit.