Four Corners: The geographic area where Osceola, Orange, Polk and Lake counties converge.
There are no agreements between the four local governments when it comes to managing growth in the area, which includes ChampionsGate, Reunion Resort and a large chunk of the tourist corridor on west U.S. Highway 192.
But officials from the counties at least seemed to be on the same page when they met Wednesday to discuss how their respective governments could work together for the future of Four Corners.
The luxury vacation home market there booms along with residential and commercial development, feeding into Central Florida’s ranking as one of the fastest growing regions in the U.S.
However, each county controls and funds its own schools, fire stations and law enforcement patrols in Four Corners. Many local transportation projects, building regulations and taxes are likewise managed independently by the counties in the unincorporated quadripoint.
Even the U.S. Census recognizes Four Corners as a “designated place” yet splits up the counties when calculating Metropolitan Statistical Areas to survey the population there.
Pristine golf courses, gated communities and high-end hotels, such as the Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate, typify the area, which provides direct access to Interstate 4 for residents, vacationers and businesses.
Margaritaville Resort Orlando, meanwhile, represents a potential identity crisis in Four Corners: The $750 million hotel-entertainment-shopping complex is actually located in unincorporated Osceola County and its address is technically in Kissimmee.
The area’s interwoven infrastructure and each county’s separate building regulations, taxes and impact fees present challenges. Feeder road congestion, disparate code enforcement policies and beautification projects are also problematic.
Wednesday’s Four Corners Summit was sponsored by the Kissimmee/Osceola Chamber of Commerce and moderated by Marc S. Reicher, senior vice president of RIDA, the company that developed ChampionsGate.
“I really think there’s a vision that’s why we’ve invested,” Reicher said. “We develop all over the country and this Four Corners area has always had a high level of engagement.”
He said the area could attract even more high-end development if certain standards were adopted by the local governments.
“This is a region of all four counties that exports dollars to the general funds of county coffers,” Reicher said.
The conference was a brainstorming session and information dump for the county representatives on the panel.
“Where we’re going with how we’re growing” was an underlying theme for discussions ranging from regional transportation to signage and landscaping along 192.
Officials seemed open to pursuing intergovernmental partnerships that could unify Four Corners development and make it more attractive to visitors, homebuyers, businesses and the surrounding communities.
Officials from Osceola said the county would study traffic patterns on Old Tampa Highway and Old Lake Wilson Road, where congestion during peak driving hours is growing.
Although major thoroughfares in the heart of Osceola – such as Neptune and Simpson roads – are bigger priorities, updating the data with a new traffic study could potentially bump up projects that feed Four Corners.
County Manager Don Fisher said elected officials must direct their staffs to work together and with the private developers for oversight.
“As a region, we can’t let it deteriorate,” Fisher said. “You guys have to beat your fists on the table to get this to happen.”