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Disney filing gives first look at new Lake Nona campus

Lake Nona master developer Tavistock has filed a framework master plan to begin construction permitting for the future Disney Regional Campus.

Disney’s new 1.8 million-square-foot corporate campus at Lake Nona will be designed with all of the buildings facing a central park area with pedestrians walkways linking each of the buildings and providing a quick walk to the Lake Nona Town Center, according to plans filed late last week.

Tavistock Development Company submitted the application Jan. 18 for a framework master plan on behalf of Disney, which paid $46.4 million in 2021 for the 58-acre site. Vice President Jessi Blakely said the firm is acting in an advisory capacity for Disney to begin the process of approvals for construction of the future regional campus.

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The project narrative noted that the “Office Campus will contain a strong open space element. Internal walkways will connect all buildings and lead to a centralized open space area that will serve as the heart of the campus.”

This framework master plan shows the general layout of the campus, with six office buildings, two flex buildings and three parking garages.

Global architecture firm HOK is leading the design work, alongside Harris Civil Engineers. The application was filed in time to get on the March 9 agenda for the city’s new Development Review Committee, successor to the Southeast Town DRC. Landscape plans will be submitted at a later time.

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Construction will be phased, but upon completion, the campus would consist of six office buildings (B1-B6), two flex buildings (B7 and B8), three parking garages, a central plant, and a surface parking lot for visitors. Blakely declined to provide more details on the phasing plan for the project.

Access to the campus will be restricted to a handful of guard-gated entrances. Once inside the campus, employees and visitors will be able to circulate via an internal loop road.

The site plan calls for entry points at the following locations:

  • Medical City Drive – main employee entrance providing access to two of the proposed parking garages
  • Helios Boulevard – main visitor entrance located near the intersection of Lake Nona Blvd. that provides access to the visitor parking area and a secondary entrance that will provide additional access more directly to the third parking garage
  • Lake Nona Boulevard – a right-out exit only is proposed

While the PD zoning allows for a maximum height of 10 stories, the initial plan calls for buildings to range in height from four to seven stories. Each of the parking garages will have six levels. The bulk of the built environment, 1.46 million square feet, is defined as general office, while the remaining 346,000 square feet will be flex office/industrial.

The campus eventually would serve as the new home for 2,000 high-wage employees in Disney’s Imagineering and Theme Parks divisions. Initially, Disney intended to complete the relocations and be up and running by December 2022, but the timeline was pushed back several years amid the controversy over Forida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law and Gov. Ron DeSantis’s move to dissolve the Reedy Creek Special District and give control over Disney lands to the state.

Last year Disney spokeswoman Jacquee Wahler said the expected opening date for the Lake Nona campus was moved to 2026 to “give people more time” and accommodate the construction timeline for the new offices.

Disney has projected it could spend up to $864 million to build the campus, but it would be eligible to claim more than $570 million in tax breaks over 20 years for the project.

Wahler declined to comment on the filing other than to confirm that Tavistock had submitted it on Disney’s behalf.

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HOK has designed corporate campuses for some of the world’s largest corporations, including Honeywell, LG and Norfolk Southern, and specializes in sustainable design. For the LG North America headquarters in New Jersey, the 350,000-square-foot headquarters office achieved Platinum LEED certification. The offices featured 60,000 square feet of solar panels plus 2 acres of green roofs to meet the commitment to be carbon net-zero.

The architecture firm also emphasizes employee wellness in its corporate campus designs. At LG, the grounds include outdoor terraces, restored woodlands, contemplative Korean gardens, a walking trail that weaves through the site and a basketball court. The cafeteria opens to a landscaped plaza and the fitness center opens to a courtyard.

The HOK-designed Central + Wolfe campus in Sunnyvale, California includes some of the elements, such as the central greenspace with interconnected walkways, shown in the Disney concept. The campus also showcases another growing office trend: biophilic design that’s inspired by nature.

In a recent webinar HOK hosted on Office Design Trends for 2023, Director of Interiors Tom Polucci said the pandemic forced companies to “up their game” to create bespoke spaces that drive workers back to the office by choice. Part of that is curated amenities that create a compelling sense of place and hospitality-like concierge services that inspire creativity.

“More and more of our workplace projects have an outdoor element,“ said Polucci. “That connection to the outdoors is a key component to wellness, as is promoting movement.”

Some amenities now being offered by employers in creative and entertainment industries include wellness rooms, outdoor workspaces, prayer rooms, game rooms, dojos, maker spaces, podcast recording booths, tech bars and gardening areas.

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“People are 80% of your costs,” HOK Director of WorkPlace Kay Sargent said. “We need to recognize the importance of having happy, healthy, engaged, empowered workers who will work harder for you than somebody who’s disgruntled, unhappy or unhealthy. We need to focus more on human-centric measurements, access to decision–makers, access to mentors, engagement, empowerment, a sense of purpose and belonging. In many ways, we’ve been focused on the wrong things.”

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


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