Long-promised Magic com­plex set to be­gin con­struc­tion in ’19

Down­town en­ter­tain­ment cen­ter has new de­sign

Orlando Sentinel - - FRONT PAGE - By Cha­beli Her­rera

More than a decade ago, a group of ar­chi­tects pre­sented the Or­lando Magic with an en­tic­ing con­cept: Build an all-in-one en­ter­tain­ment com­plex across the street from the Amway Cen­ter.

Ten bas­ket­ball sea­sons later, shov­els are fi­nally sched­uled to go into the ground next year as the Magic sees that dream come to fruition.

“It’s taken a lit­tle bit longer than we had hoped or an­tic­i­pated, but I think it’s still go­ing to have the same ef­fect ... of be­ing a real cat­a­lyst for de­vel­op­ment down­town,” said Alex Martins, CEO of the Magic.

Martins gave an up­date on the de­vel­op­ment Tues­day, along with new ren­der­ings that show a re­vised plan for the 8.4 acre project — and a new price tag. Martins said the dis­trict will likely be com­pleted by about 2021.

In ren­der­ings by HKS Ar­chi­tects, the sports and en­ter­tain­ment dis­trict — as it’s be­ing called for now — fea­tures a 250-room lux­ury ho­tel, a 300-unit high-end res­i­den­tial tower, 80,000 square feet of event space, 100,000 square feet of re­tail space bor­der­ing a

“I think it’s still go­ing to have the same ef­fect ... of be­ing a real cat­a­lyst for de­vel­op­ment down­town.” Magic CEO Alex Martins

large, open-air plaza and a 200,000-square-foot, seven-story class A of­fice build­ing that will be the Magic’s new head­quar­ters.

The fi­nal cost of the de­vel­op­ment will be “sig­nif­i­cantly higher” than the $200 mil­lion that has been touted for years, Martins said, but he wouldn’t be more spe­cific.

Bor­dered by Church Street to the south, Divi­sion Av­enue to the west, Cen­tral Av­enue to the north and Hughey Av­enue to the east, the com­plex will pri­mar­ily cater to bas­ket­ball fans and other visi­tors to the Amway Cen­ter across Church Street. But the goal is to make the com­plex a des­ti­na­tion as well, Martins said.

The new de­sign now in­cludes a plaza en­trance on Divi­sion Av­enue, too, con­nect­ing the de­vel­op­ment to the Univer­sity of Cen­tral Florida’s down­town cam­pus now un­der con­struc­tion. The two smaller plazas al­low the space to cater to dif­fer­ent in­ter­ests and be more nim­ble for events, Martins said.

The planned lo­ca­tion of the ho­tel and the of­fice build­ing also have been flipped in part to im­prove the flow of traf­fic, with the ho­tel now at the cor­ner of Church and Divi­sion and the of­fice build­ing at the cor­ner of Church and Hughey Av­enue.

Also new: The new en­ter­tain­ment dis­trict will have a ma­jor fo­cus on tech­nol­ogy and sus­tain­abil­ity. A 2,400-space park­ing garage, for in­stance, will in­clude a “mo­bil­ity plaza” on the bot­tom floor, which will process Uber and Lyft drop offs and a Lynx stop. It will ac­com­mo­date au­ton­o­mous ve­hi­cles in the fu­ture.

Martins said he hopes the tech­nol­ogy will set the Magic’s com­plex apart from other sports en­ter­tain­ment dis­tricts in the coun­try.

In terms of re­tail, Martins re­vealed that apart from res­tau­rants and bars, the team is also tar­get­ing op­tions such as high-end bowl­ing al­leys that of­fer bowl­ing, food and bev­er­ages in a so­cial at­mos­phere.

“Our in­ter­est all along has been for this de­vel­op­ment to sus­tain it­self with­out hav­ing to rely on an event go­ing on in the evening at the Amway Cen­ter,” he said.

The trend fol­lows one that sports teams have played with across the coun­try by build­ing full-ser­vice en­ter­tain­ment com­plexes next to their are­nas. The ex­am­ples abound in more than a dozen cities across the U.S., from Sacra­mento to Char­lotte, that have built mixed-use sports com­plexes in an ef­fort to re­vive their ur­ban cores.

In Sacra­mento, for ex­am­ple, a new Sacra­mento Kings arena and 1-mil­lion-square-foot en­ter­tain­ment dis­trict have pumped life into a dead cor­ri­dor of the city’s down­town. A year after the fa­cil­ity opened in Septem­ber 2016, a city eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment group, Down­town Sacra­mento Part­ner­ship, found that 26 new ground­floor re­tail busi­nesses had been cre­ated and an­other 23 new busi­nesses were set to open in the com­ing months. Down­town em­ploy­ment had bal­looned by 38 per­cent since the arena’s con­struc­tion be­gan.

“What’s driv­ing it is that own­ers of pro­fes­sional sports fran­chises have come to re­al­ize that they are more than own­ers of sports teams — they are in the en­ter­tain­ment busi­ness,” said Scott Zolke, a Los

An­ge­les-based part­ner in the sports and me­dia prac­tice at law firm Loeb and Loeb. Zolke was in­volved in the Sacra­mento arena deal.

“It’s re­ally look­ing at your build­ing as more than just a gym­na­sium or a hockey rink, and re­ally look­ing at is as an en­ter­tain­ment at­trac­tion and that’s why we are see­ing th­ese own­ers add the bells and whis­tles that go with cre­at­ing a des­ti­na­tion,” Zolke said. Next steps

To bring its vi­sion to re­al­ity, the Magic have had to clear mul­ti­ple hur­dles to get the area’s old ten­ants into new ac­com­mo­da­tions. The park­ing garage on the lot has been torn down and the Or­lando Po­lice De­part­ment, whose head­quar­ters the Magic bought for $12.7 mil­lion in 2013, has re­lo­cated to a new 94,000-square-foot head­quar­ters at South Street and Or­ange Blos­som Trail as of early last year.

Per­haps the most chal­leng­ing piece of the puz­zle, re­lo­cat­ing the Or­lando Union Res­cue Mis­sion men’s home, will be com­pleted when the mis­sion’s new lo­ca­tion at the for­mer Park­wood Inn on West

Colo­nial Drive is com­pleted by the end of the year. The mis­sion is ex­pected to move out in early 2019 and con­struc­tion for the en­ter­tain­ment com­plex will be­gin next year, as well.

Up next for the de­vel­op­ment: Pin­ning down of­fice and re­tail ten­ants for the project.

If done well, the dis­trict could also up­lift the Par­ramore neigh­bor­hood it sits in.

The kind of mas­sive growth it will spur will likely cre­ate some gen­tri­fi­ca­tion in Par­ramore, said Sean Snaith, di­rec­tor of UCF’s In­sti­tute for Eco­nomic Com­pet­i­tive­ness, but he said it will ul­ti­mately re­sult in a net pos­i­tive for the area with a new crop of hos­pi­tal­ity jobs just walk­ing dis­tance away.

“Neigh­bor­hoods or ar­eas of cities that have sort of fallen into dis­re­pair, as de­vel­op­ment hap­pens, peo­ple and money pour back into th­ese ar­eas and help im­prove them,” Snaith said. “It’s an­other step in the right di­rec­tion in terms of boost­ing down­town Or­lando’s econ­omy and cre­at­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for jobs.”


The Or­lando Magic gave an up­date on their pro­posed sports and en­ter­tain­ment com­plex on Tues­day, along with a ren­der­ing show­ing a re­vised plan for the 8.4 acre down­town project, set to open in 2021.

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