By Peter Covino
One of the most unusual shopping venues in Central Florida, Artegon Marketplace Orlando, is set to open, Nov. 20.
There is still plenty of work to do before the new center, which will be home to 165 artisanal shops and stores officially opens its doors, but the 1.1 millon-square-foot shopping attraction will be the first of its kind in the area, inspired by such famous marketplaces as Seattle’s Pike Place, Boston’s Faneuil Hall, New York’s Chelsea Market and the London Flower Market.
According to officials, the giant retail complex, the former home of Festival Bay off of International Drive, is progressing on schedule toward its opening. Construction is complete on the major components shopping attraction and artisan marketplace with paint, electrical and other finishing touches now underway.
The shopping attraction is being developed by Paragon Outlet Partners, LLC. Paragon is credited with redeveloping the former Belz Factory Outlet into the highly-successful Prime Outlets Orlando that eventually sold to Simon Properties.
“It’s fantastic to see our vision coming to life,” said Steven Sless, executive vice president for Paragon Outlet Partners, in a press release.
The centerpiece of the shopping attraction will be Florida’s largest daily indoor artisan marketplace. Local market dealers will sell and demonstrate their products and services. They include Florida Soap Company, Poca’s Hottest, Vagabond Traveler, David Ramirez Chocolates and Kathryn McHenry of SOS Art Studio, along with many other one-of-a-kind artisans offering eco-friendly handbags and accessories, jewelry, sculpture, mixed media artwork, custom clothing and locally-sourced foods.
Sless expects the artisan marketplace to be fully leased by opening day. “We have experienced a marked increase in inquiries over the past month as interest and excitement builds among Central Florida’s top artisans and craftspeople,” Sless said. “With each passing day, we are seeing new and interesting concepts and handcrafted works arrive to our leasing office as entrepreneurs explore our exceptional business opportunity.”
Several anchor locations from Festival Bay will also be a part of Artegon Marketplace Orlando as well as some new tenants as well. These anchor tenants include Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World, Ron Jon Surf Shop, Cinemark Theaters, Sheplers Western Stores, Radbourne Center, Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill and Berghoff’s Octoberfest. The latter two venues are scheduled to open between fall 2014 and spring 2015.
For comic book and collectibles fans, Gods & Monsters will be the highlight of the entire shopping complex.
The store is being described as the first high-end innovative comics and collectibles store of its kind in the country.
“Gods & Monsters will change the perception of what a comic and toy store can be,” said co-founders Todd Fisher and Anna Young in a store release. “Forget boring racks of worn out back issues and the same old action figures gathering dust in shoddy displays. We’re doing something different.”
Gods & Monsters will offer sought-after merchandise including new and rare releases, import items and vintage collectibles. The decor is being created by scenic effects artists whose portfolios include Central Florida’s s theme parks and attractions.
Other features of the 18,898-square-foot facility include:
The Transmetropolitan Gallery – A pop-culture, fine art gallery featuring an ever-changing array of comic and media themed art – including sculpture, paintings, custom toys and original comic art –from local, national and international artists.
The Offworld L.O.U.N.G.E. – A sci-fi gaming lounge, heavily inspired by the movie Blade Runner, where guests can enjoy flavored iced coffees, artisan sodas and themed snacks while facing off in a round of Cards Against Humanity or wrecking the noobs at Super Smash Bros as they chow down on udon noodle cups at the White Dragon Noodle Bar.
•An interactive app that will provide access to hidden content throughout the store and beyond (to be released during phase II).
•Special events such as creator signings, movie premieres and conventions where fans can meet their favorite writers, artists and stars.
“Much the same way Artegon Marketplace Orlando is equal parts attraction and shopping, Gods & Monsters is more than a shop,” said Sless. executive vice president for Paragon Outlet “This is a perfect fit for the immersive, interactive experience we are creating here.”
Fisher and Young have been in the comic and toy retail business for nearly 40 combined years. Multiple winners of ‘Best of Orlando’ awards, the two have operated some of the region’s finest and best loved stores and galleries including Acme Superstore in Longwood, A Comic Shop in Winter Park, Tekno Comix in Altamonte Springs, and Park Avenue Fine Art and Russell-Alexander Fine Art in Winter Park.
Another innovative part of the shopping attraction is
the nation’s first International Hot Glass, a glass gallery showcasing artists from around the world and a studio where guests can work with a professional glass blower to create their own piece of art.
Artegon Marketplace Orlando also will include:
•The Great Hall with an expansive “Climb Adventure” ropes course (paid admission) and a variety of food offerings, from coffee and Danish to pizza, sandwiches and salads.
•Daily food trucks.
Free Wi-Fi both indoors and in the outdoor plaza areas.
•Caricaturists, henna and jawa tattoo painters, canvas airbrush artists and other edgy performers.
•Streetmosphere performers, from jugglers to singers to stilt walkers, strolling throughout the shopping attraction on weekends.
•An industrial-chic environment punctuated by heavy wooden support beams, exposed brick and weathered steel.
“Artegon Marketplace Orlando is poised to become a must-see attraction for residents, visitors and conventioneers alike, providing them with a new place to experience the sights, sounds and flavors unique to Central Florida,” said Thearon Scurlock, director of marketing. “Guests can discover authentic local culture and take home a hand-made treasure and lasting memento of their trip to Orlando.”
The center has free surface parking with 5,800 spaces. Operating hours are scheduled to be 10 a.m. -9 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 11a.m.-7 p.m. on Sunday.