UPDATED: MARCH 16, 2016 7:55 PM — Georgia-based Andretti Indoor Karting & Games will spend another $400,000 to $500,000 on exterior design and construction of its entertainment center on Universal Boulevard, after committing the past five months to tweaking its plan for the 8.44-acre lot to better align with Orange County's I-Drive Vision Plan, managing member Edison Hamann told GrowthSpotter on Wednesday.
"We've shared the vision with county planning staff (in respect to this property). It has cost us a lot more money to get to this point, but it has made our project better," Hamann said. "The staff have been really cooperative the whole time, and provided great ideas on how this can look better for us."
Hamann's development is now in the home-stretch of pre-construction approval. Its Development Plan will have a hearing on March 23 with Orange's Development Review Committee. If recommended for approval, Hamann's buyer group will close on the nine acres with owner Orlando Equity Partners in April.
At least $30 million will be invested this year to build the 95,200-square-foot attraction with video games, meeting space, electric go-karts on three levels of elevated track, zip-lines, bowling, a restaurant and more.
GrowthSpotterfirst reported on Sept. 10 that Dallas-based Topgolf and Andretti Karting were planning neighboring attractions on Universal Boulevard, with more than 20 acres of OEP land to be acquired between the two, northwest of the Orange County Convention Center.
Topgolf bought its 11.8-acre lot for $7.13 million in early February, via Kansas City-based REIT EPR Properties. Topgolf is investing a projected $20 million to build a 65,000-square-foot entertainment center, described as a hybrid of Dave & Buster's and golf.
County planners convinced Hamann and his design team to move the Andretti Karting building up to the property's frontage on Universal Boulevard, after it had been previously situated in the lot's center with parking around it. The move is critical to activating that street front in the future, and making it attractive to pedestrians.
They also helped incorporate a new design feature: glass exposures on the building front that will let passersby see go-karts racing inside the building on one of three levels of track.
A Kansas City-based REIT that has helped fund the land acquisition for many Topgolf developments around the country, paid $7.13 million on Monday for 11.8 acres on Universal Boulevard across from the convention center, where the company will invest a projected $20 million to build a 65,000-square-foot entertainment center.
"(County planners) wanted us to make the outside of the building more inviting to the pedestrian, and together we found this solution," Hamann said.
Landscaping on the property is expected to feature open areas that invite people to congregate in and around the parking lot, he added. County staff encouraged new ways of thinking about how the property could promote walkability and connectivity to neighboring parcels.
Andretti Karting's 8.44-acre lot will connect seamlessly to the Topgolf lot directly to its north via walking paths and the parking lot, Hamann said.
"We haven't had a single issue with the county staff during this process, other than this does cost us more money," he said. "But at end of the day, we are in a tourist area and need to do our best to attract people. When you look at us and Topgolf from the convention center, the interest will be unavoidable."
Andretti Karting started in Melbourne in 1999 with the 18-acre outdoor family entertainment facility Andretti Thrill Park, and opened its first Andretti Indoor Karting & Games in 2001 in Roswell, Georgia. A second, 105,000-square-foot indoor karting facility opened last October in Marietta, Georgia.
The Topgolf and Andretti Karting developments lie southwest of the majority of a 474-acre package of 19 parcels that was acquired on Dec. 17 by an affiliate of Comcast, corporate owner of Universal Orlando.