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Orlando changing city code to allow for more density in Magic’s Sports + Entertainment District

This rendering incorporates the new building heights, including a new 23-story residential tower, into the Orlando Magic Sports + Entertainment District.
This rendering incorporates the new building heights, including a new 23-story residential tower, into the Orlando Magic Sports + Entertainment District. (HKS)

Orlando’s Municipal Planning Board gave the green light to the Orlando Magic Tuesday to move forward with its updated master plan for the $500+ million Sports + Entertainment District across from the Amway Center.

The Magic revised the long-awaited development plan to more than double the amount of commercial office space, from 200,000 square feet to 420,000 square feet, and increase the number of hotel rooms from 250 to 300. The development plan also calls for nearly 110,000 square feet of retail space, 310 apartments and a 2,500-space parking garage, all built around a pedestrian plaza that stretches diagonally across the length of the property.

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The only problem is that the plan now exceeds the city’s permissible 2.0 Floor Area Ratio (FAR), even taking into account the density and intensity bonuses allowed by code under the Urban Activity Center AC-2 land use. The S+ED has Planned Development zoning.

So city staff initiated a revision to the Land Development Code that would exempt the hotel’s 80,000 square feet of conference and event space from the FAR calculation. This benefit would apply only within the Central Business District, primarily spanning the AC-3A/T district but also other non-residential districts such as AC-2.

Team officials say they will break ground in the spring on the long-anticipated Sports and Entertainment District across from Amway Center.

The conference center exemption is scheduled to go to MPB in February, so the board approved the Magic’s PD amendment subject to that condition of approval.

The project is scheduled to be constructed in two subphases, with development of the residential and office towers and the parking garage first, followed by the hotel and conference center. Tuesday’s vote, however, doesn’t approve any of the actual buildings, just the framework master plan. Each element of the district is subject to site plan and architectural review.

“This is just kind of setting up the groundwork for the next phase,” Project Planner Karl Wielecki said.

Magic Spokesman Joel Glass previously told GrowthSpotter the team’s goal is to complete the buildout by 2022.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at lkinsler@GrowthSpotter.com or (407) 420-6261, or tweet me at @LKinslerOGrowth. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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