The Magic expect their plan to purchase the property across the street from Amway Center, including the site of the current Orlando Police Department headquarters, to receive approval from the Orlando City Council. The vote is expected to occur today at the City Council meeting at 2 p.m.
Alex Martins said Friday at the 25th Anniversary kickoff event that the team hopes construction will be able to begin next summer. Reports from the Orlando Business Journal have the Magic buying the property for an estimated $12.7 million. When it is all said and done, the Magic hope to have a hotel, a small convention space, Magic headquarters and several retail and multiuse units.
Think of it as akin to the entertainment complexes and developments on Beale Street around the FedExForum in Memphis or L.A. Live around the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Magic CEO Alex Martins has been working on this project almost since the Amway Center was completed. It was also part of Orlando's vision to use Amway Center to connect Downtown Orlando to the arena. This is what I have dubbed "Amway Center Phase II."
The entertainment complex should complement Amway Center and help bring more people downtown by giving them more entertainment and work options.
"To have a great facility is a great opportunity to attract future players to our team through free agency and players who want to be here and play here and through the draft like Victor Oladipo," Martins said Friday. "This is a great opportunity for us to continue to build our team and be successful in the future.
"But most importantly it is a great opportunity for our fans to enjoy the experience. We're going to continue to find ways through technology and other means to make sure that we continue to enhance this experience for our fans. This building is a great way for us to do that."
It is hard to get a sense on what this will do until it gets built. It should be a year or so before it is completed with anticipated construction beginning during the summer of 2014 after a four-month study of the property.
There is sure to be some concern from property owners who feel that it is further urban sprawl and pushing out blight in the Parramore area. There should also be some store owners upset that the Magic will be buying them out of the units across from the Amway Center just three or four years after the building opened. Then there was the All Star game complaints about the fence the NBA erected in the Church Street plaza blocking outside stores from getting to the foot traffic going into and out of the game.
Many of those owners have been reportedly upset anyway with the Magic's and Amway Center's policy not to let outside food into the building. The store owners have also been upset that downtown patrons are not crossing under I-4 on non gamedays. This new entertainment and office district may alleviate some of those concerns if they are not bought out of their storefronts.
Those are negatives to the project, but not unforeseen ones even when the Magic and the city built Amway Center.
The potential for the Magic to build a more work-friendly facility that has good synergy with retail and entertainment options could make this area more of a success and, more importantly, provide new options for those visiting Orlando and living in Orlando to be downtown and support local businesses in the area.
"It just says we have a great GM, a great CEO and great management that is going to do everything possible to have a great product for this community and let people of Orlando and Florida see an organization that is committed to doing the right things for a long time," Jacque Vaughn said before practice Monday.
If it is all about options, the Magic certainly are going to be providing many many more to Downtown Orlando patrons and business.