I-Drive’s Skyplex to have huge impact on nearby biz
International Drive’s $200 million Skyplex project is expected to be a huge tourism booster for Central Florida.
At a June 5 announcement, Mango’s Tropical Cafe executives who are behind the project said the 495,000-square-foot entertainment and retail complex has the potential to draw several million visitors a year to I-Drive, a popular tourism corridor in southwest Orlando.
The complex — to be built at the southeast corner of Sand Lake Road and I-Drive — will feature a 570-foot-tall observation tower and vertical roller coaster attraction called Skyscraper. It’s reportedly the tallest coaster in the world and will go 65 mph.
The complex also will have a parking area, restaurant and event space, arcades and several retailers that may include major New York City brands such as Adidas Y-3, executives told OBJ.
“This is the I-Drive of the 21st century,” said Joshua Wallack, co-owner and COO of Mango’s Tropical Cafe. “We have the hotels, Pointe Orlando, the new restaurants, and now we have I-Drive 360, Skyplex and Mango’s.”
Even if only 250,000 tourists travel to I-Drive annually to see the Skyplex and then spend a day on the corridor, that could mean nearly $150 million in new business for Central Florida.
In addition, Wallack said the 12-acre project will create more than 500 new jobs, including food and beverage, retail and entertainment.
“This is a great addition and should be huge for I-Drive,” said Chuck Whittall, president ofUnicorp National Developments Inc., who isn’t involved in the Skyplex project. Unicorp currently is building the $200 million I-Drive 360 entertainment complex set to open in 2015, which is across Sand Lake Road from Skyplex. That project includes a 425-foot observation wheel.
Both Whittall and Wallack told OBJ the two projects would complement each other rather than competing, by attracting I-Drive guests to see both attractions and stay longer on the tourist corridor.
Angel de la Portilla, president with Central Florida Strategies, said the addition of Skyplex shows that International Drive is in the midst of an investment boom. To date, de la Portilla said there’s nearly a half-billion dollars in new construction investment being injected into the corridor that will revitalize the region.
The Skyplex project is slated to begin construction in 2015 and be completed by 2016.
What you’re saying
The Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts’ iconic round building in downtown Orlando will be razed soon to make room for the new CNL Arts Plaza ( http://bizj.us/x69qh).
We asked readers on social media if they’ll miss the round building. Here’s what they had to say:
Ryan Speaks: No, it looks dated and I’m looking forward to that 15,000-person outdoor concert venue.
Highforge Solutions-Orlando Web Design and Marketing: It’s such a shame to be throwing away a perfectly good building like that. But onward, progress.
John Kairis: It always reminds me of the Philadelphia Police station HQ. That one is round and also has the lower design elements.
Alexander Kolozvary Jr.: Why not demo the eyesore on I-4 in Altamonte Springs instead? Ha.
The big picture
Bad news if you’re a fan of the round building outside the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts — that’s most likely coming down later this year.
However, I got a tour on June 9 — and took photos — inside the arts center that may get you excited about what will happen after that round building is long gone. Construction on the $500 million-plus arts center’s first phase will be done in November, with the second phase still awaiting more funding.
See more arts center photos here: http://bizj.us/x36gn.
By the numbers
Orlando City Soccer revealed the first images of its future $110 million soccer stadium on June 10. The team, which will move into Major League Soccer in 2015, also is expected to host other events at the downtown Orlando stadium, including the 2016 and 2017 NCAA Women’s College Cup.
Here are 10 fun stadium facts:
Stadium cost: $110 million
Size: 300,000 square feet on 8.4 acres
Capacity: 19,500 people, with built-in infrastructure for future expansions
Groundbreaking date: As early as November, opening in March 2016
Jobs: 300-plus temporary construction jobs and 75 game-day operation jobs
Amenities: 38 luxury suites and a 100-person, 360-degree bar terrace
Three overhanging roofs designed to amplify and bounce back fan noise