Visit Orlando will be more than doubling the footprint of its Official Visitors Center in the heart of International Drive, with plans to move from a small inline retail space to the vacant gift shop next to Mango's Tropical Cafe, and the Hollywood Plaza parking garage now under construction.
"The new center opens later this year. We are still in the early stages and will share more exciting details as we get closer to opening," spokeswoman Becca Bides told GrowthSpotter on Tuesday. "The new location, at 8102 International Dr., will provide this welcome center with greatly increased visibility to the expanding number of visitors in this significant tourist corridor."
Based just south of the Sand Lake Road intersection, the 6,000-square-foot space was home to Khurram Sheik's Florida Trends Gift Shop for more than 15 years.
The area features 30-foot ceilings unique to any retail space on I-Drive, and the frontage sees at least 21,500 annual average daily trips (AADT), per marketing materials for the property from last year.
Sheik's long-term tenancy was key to lender BankUnited supporting Joshua Wallack and his family's purchase of the building in December 2012 for a future nightclub. Florida Trends' lease expired in July 2016, and the store closed last October.
Wallack declined to comment on Tuesday morning when asked about the prospective tenant.
The Visitors Center has been located at 8723 International Dr., just southeast of Austrian Row, for more than 20 years in a small inline retail space behind what is now Boston Lobster Feast. The property is owned and managed by Gala Enterprises of Central Florida.
The Orlando/Orange County Convention & Visitors Bureau applied for a building permit on Friday with the county for interior renovation of the space.
The job's declared value was a conservative $350,000 by the applicant. Visit Orlando declined to comment on how much it plans to invest in the move, or details of its timeline.
Next to the future Visitors Bureau space, construction continues on Wallack's new Hollywood Plaza parking garage. The 10-story building is near fully erected, and new decorative concrete art was starting to be applied as of last week.
The garage is projected to open in the fourth quarter of this year for parking, and in 2018 should have a 10,500-square-foot Circo Italian restaurant open on the rooftop, and 9,500 square feet of retail space on the ground floor, of which 4,000 square feet will be leased by Hogan's Beach Shop.