Orlando Sentinel

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

Downtown entertainm­ent center has new design

- 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.”

 ?? ILLUSTRATI­ON COURTESY OF ORLANDO MAGIC ?? 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.
ILLUSTRATI­ON COURTESY OF ORLANDO MAGIC 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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