Universal Studios speaks out against Wallack's Skyplex coaster height

Universal Studios Orlando can now be counted among the stakeholders of Orlando's International Drive corridor that don't want to see Wallack Holdings' Skyplex entertainment complex build a rollercoaster at world record-level height. 

The theme park company sent local attorney Peter G. Latham, of Latham, Shuker, Eden & Beaudine, to speak on its behalf at Wednesday morning's Orange County Development Review Committee meeting, where a request to rezone 11.46 acres for the Skyplex project was set to be heard. 

Latham encouraged Orange County government to not allow Wallack's project to avoid the height restriction for his property. Wallack wants to rezone his Skyplex parcels from General Commercial (C-2), which carries a height restriction of 200 feet, to a Planned Development (PD) that would be subject to the Convention Center Plaza Overlay District, which has no height restriction.

Because Wallack’s site sits on a hill, the Skyscraper tower will approach 700 feet above sea level. The Skyscraper actually stands at 580 feet from street level.

Wallack needs the overlay district rules applied to his property to build the world’s tallest roller coaster, and precedent exists for him to cite. I-Drive 360's Ferris wheel was approved to 425 feet last year by including that property in the Convention Center Plaza Overlay District.

"There's a very haphazard way these exemptions are being requested, and there's nothing that clearly delineates how these changes are being applied right now," Latham said. "These (height waivers) are giving a competitive advantage to one property owner over his immediate neighbor, and it undermines the mayor's I-Drive visioning task force work." 

Latham said Universal sees this as a competitive disadvantage that attraction height on its park properties were limited to the 200-foot standards of local zoning, but that in the past year new attractions on I-Drive are successfully pursuing variances to that limit. 

Wallack's team of advisors at the meeting said they are working closely with Orange County on the rezoning, and contend that applying overlay district standards that far north on I-Drive is within reason.

Some I-Drive stakeholders said at a May 6 public meeting they were concerned the current year-long visioning study for the Convention Center and I-Drive will be undercut in the coming months by a cascade of new project proposals, before any master plan for the corridor is ready.

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