That hard work paid off. The state of Florida eventually gave Osceola Regional Medical Center of Kissimmee permission to build a hospital in Poinciana, and construction is expected to begin next year.
Without a doubt, the residents of this fast growing community of more than 80,000 that crosses both Polk and Osceola counties really wanted a hospital close by, rather than having to drive to Celebration, Kissimmee or Haines City to find one.
But now a local business leader is once again asking the community to rally behind an effort to bring in something that the community doesn’t have, but it’s a smaller project and it’s not clear if residents will be as strongly motivated to support and get out and work for this one.
Luis F. Carrasquillo owns and operates the Heroes Family Club Multiplex Theater, an organization he formed to help bring the first movie theater to Poinciana. Right now, the closest movie theaters are somewhere else, including Celebration, Downtown Disney, and the Loop shopping mall in Kissimmee.
To make the project even more appealing to investors and the community, Carrasquillo is partnering on this project with the T.E.C.O Vocational School in Kissimmee to draft the concept design of this facility, and introduce it to the community. Students taking courses in architecture, CAD drafting and graphic design are designing six possible models for the proposed movie theater.
On Oct. 22, the community is invited to visit the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort at 9939 Universal Boulevard in Orlando to help decide which concept works the best.
From 11 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. that day, “A group of students will be exhibiting a few artistic presentations,” Carrasquillo said. “These rendering designs will be showing how the new Poinciana Movie Theater and Family Entertainment Center will look like on its grand opening.”
But it’s not clear if Carraquillo can generate the same level of enthusiasm and community backing for a movie theater as Poinciana residents demonstrated while lobbying for the hospital.
“We are supportive of it,” said Jeanette Coughenour, manager of the Association of Poinciana Villages, the home owner’s association for the 10 villages in Poinciana.
What’s not clear, Coughenour said, is whether Carrasquillo can encourage financial support within the community for the project.
“The community will band together to make things happen,” she said. “I do believe that. Everybody wants a hospital, everybody wants restaurants, and everybody wants a movie theatre. But will people reach into their pockets to pay for one? That’s the big question. What he’s talking about is going to the community and asking them to commit some funding for a return on their investment.”
Traditionally, Coughenour said, companies that operate movie theaters will build one in a community if they sense there’s enough public support to make it profitable. If the builder doesn’t think there’s enough demand for a theater, they won’t bother. But either way, the free market dictates what happens, Coughenour said.
“I think they just build them when there’s a business plan that supports the idea,” she said.
But there are others who think Carrasquillo is on the right track, and that generating excitement and enthusiasm within the community will help convince business owners to invest in this project.
“He has a whole plan for a new movie theater,” said Nick Murdock, chairman of the Poinciana Economic Development Alliance. “He’s gone to several different theaters, and he has one major investor who is interested right now.”
Murdock said Galaxy Theatres in California may sign on a possible investor.
“They may finance some of his equipment,” Murdock said.
Murdock said he’s been working with Carrasquillo in another way: trying to line up a possible location for the cinema complex if the investors come through, and Murdock said he’s discussed some possible properties with Avatar, the main developer in Poinciana.
Another member of the alliance, Nestor R. Nuesch, said even if this project does seem challenging, the community should still get behind it and do whatever is needed to make it happen.
“This is something we can help with, when people pursue a dream,” Nuesch said. “Let’s admit it, this is a long shot. But if he can make it happen, the people of Poinciana are going to be glad they have a movie theater.”
To learn more about the project, log on to www.hfctheater.com.
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