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Universal Orlando leading opposition against proposed Skyplex project while Unicorp proceeds with its plan for I-Drive

in Entertainment, Food, Universal Orlando

While the developers behind the massive Skyplex project continue to move forward with plans to have their project heard at a special Orange County Commission on December 1, growing opposition to the plan is being spearheaded by none other than Universal Orlando.

On Friday, Orlando Sentinel reported that a Universal Orlando-affiliated coalition called Save Our Orange County Community launched a website and has begun distributing fliers around the surrounding neighborhood detailing their reasons for opposing the enormous project. Plans include a 595-foot tall “polercoaster”, the centerpiece among shops, restaurants, an observation deck and much more. Universal Orlando has long opposed the project but are ramping their efforts ahead of the meeting that will decide the fate of the Skyplex.

“This project sets a bad precedent and will be a negative impact on our community and our quality of life,” Universal spokesman Tom Schroder said in an email.

He would not say how many mailers were sent out.

Josh Wallack, the developer behind Skyplex, called the mailers “unbelievable.”

“We don’t have their [Universal’s] resources,” he said. “All we can do when we go in front of the board of county commissioners … is speak the truth.”

The mailers feature photos comparing the height of Skyplex with structures including the Orlando Eye and the SunTrust building downtown. Orange County staff said it appears that the proportions are off. Universal said it believes everything is to scale.

The mailers provide email addresses and phone numbers for Orange County commissioners, who will vote on the project Dec. 1.

The website, saveourorangecountycommunity.com, also has a link for electronic petition signatures.

Meanwhile, Unicorp National Developments Inc. is continuing onward with their plans to overhaul a nearly one mile long stretch of land on International Drive that will also incorporate the Skyplex project, should it proceed as designed.

The Orlando Business Journal has details on what is being referred to as a massive hotel, retail and open-air destination that was planned with assistance from Skyplex’s architect team.

A site plan shows Unicorp’s idea for potentially 13 new hotel towers with retail space surrounded by natural features like lakes, small parks and walkways, and a road system. The map also shows what Unicorp has planned for about 20 acres of land just east of the I-Drive 360 complex that could host three hotel towers, a large restaurant development, a theater and a massive water feature show that would be seen from the Orlando Eye.

(Unicorp president Chuck) Whittall was not available for comment, but has previously told Orlando Business Journal he envisioned that 20 acres of land — which he has yet to close on — could be home to entertainment that tourists could find in Las Vegas, without casinos. That includes nighttime entertainment and attracting shows and singers to perform there nightly.

Joshua Wallack of Wallack Holdings said he believes Unicorp’s vision is to build an outdoor restaurant area much like the dining experience that sits next to the iconic fountains outside the Bellagio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. This plays right into the district’s goal of breathing new life into the after-hours scene of the tourism corridor — a much-needed amenity for both leisure and convention visitors.

For more on the project, you can read the entire article at the Orlando Business Journal.

5 Comments

  1. Shawn

    My husband and I lived off Universal Blvd near the Orlando convention center for over 5 years now. We have seen this area grow and change. 5 years ago we would have never walked down idrive at night because it felt run down and unsafe. We do have some concens about how traffic will be handled in this area very conjested intersection at idrive and sandlake. If some major changes are made to resolve the traffic issue we are all for this new complex that will continue to bring idrive and our tourism to a new level.

  2. Ross Beattie

    Having spent our yearly holidays in Orlando on a regular basis I am excited abOut this development although hearing that Universal were originally capped at a 200 ft for any of their attractions it does seem a little bit unfair with the possible lack of inconsistency that Skyplex is allowed to be over 500 ft if not more.
    Is that due to different zones in Orlando?
    Also Walt Disney did it right buying their land initially to hide any outside influences. Universal doesn’t have that luxury so they will have to hide the Skyplex view well to stop so they will need to be creative if it does go ahead.
    Yes International Drive does seem a little bit unsafe especially the road junctions but having seen a proposal there is some scope by creating elevated walkways similar to how Las Vegas crossed there very busy junctions.
    Blackpool in England, UK although not exactly an exact comparison to International Drive has been known for looking untidy and with some parts looking a little bit of an unsafe environment especially at night time but with serious investment it has been turned round and standards have massively increased.
    This I am sure will happen to other parts of International Drive. We can clearly see towards the Orlando Eye area we can see development has massively been invested so it’s with everyone’s best interest especially the hotels of that area that similar investment is continued.

  3. Elizabeth gmazel

    Please vote against the skyplex

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