On Monday, the Orlando Magic unveiled to the city of Orlando the outlines of its plans to build an entertainment complex across the street from Amway Center. The plan would build additional hotel, retail and business space in downtown Orlando on the location where Orlando's Police Department is currently headquartered.
Alex Martins told the Orlando City Council that there is enough demand to move forward with the $100 million plan (h/t Mark Schlueb of the Orlando Sentinel):
There is great and exciting opportunity for a sports-and-entertainment district right in that core," Martins said. "There is demand in downtown Orlando for all these components, in addition to additional residential."
This was always part of the plan for the Magic. When Orlando was reviewing the best way to build its stadium, it looked out how FedExForum helped revitalize Beale Street and how Los Angeles built L.A. Live around the Staples Center. Indeed, the Barclays Center was also the hub for developing the Atlantic Yards area in Brooklyn.
This is eventually what the Magic want to accomplish. In fact, the original facilities plan that the City of Orlando and the Orange County Board of Commissioners envisioned a continuous entertainment district going from the Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center at one end of downtown going through (and hopefully revitalizing) the Parramore area and ending at the renovated Citrus Bowl.
Obviously, the economy has put a damper on many of those hopes getting done on time. However, the performing arts center is well under way with its construction and the Citrus Bowl renovation is being planned for after that.
There have been headaches however with the Amway Center and proposed development and Schlueb notes several of them in his article. Several merchants in stores and restaurants across the street from the Amway Center have complained that fans are not able to take food bought at their stores into the arena. They were also extremely upset that the NBA erected a gigantic fence during All-Star Weekend, locking these businesses out of one of the more lucrative weekends at Amway Center.
Schlueb's report notes that it is unclear whether the merchants in those retail spots now would be able to afford any increase in rent.
In any case, the expansion of Amway Center was always part of the plan. The Magic sold the city of Orlando and want to build this kind of entertainment complex to help rebuild downtown Orlando. Now, three years into Amway Center's existence, the Magic and the city are beginning to get the wheels turning on this interesting new development.