Magic to file revised master plan for downtown entertainment district

With groundbreaking anticipated in 2019, the Orlando Magic and its new architect have revised the master plan for the long-anticipated Sports and Entertainment District across from the Amway Center and are actively seeking development partners for the hotel and multifamily components of the district.

Magic CEO Alex Martins told GrowthSpotter the plan now is to build the entire mixed-use district, which includes new team headquarters, in one phase and that the budget will far exceed the initial $200 million estimate. 

"We still haven’t had the project priced out yet," he said on Tuesday. "Based on where we are in design, it will be significantly beyond the $200 million."

The Magic released new renderings from HKS, which is leading the design from its Orlando office. Those renderings will hit the marketplace this week as the team begins its initial lease up for the 200,000 square feet of Class A office space and 100,000 square feet of marquee retail. 

Martins said the development team met with several architecture firms before selecting HKS. He said the principals best captured the team's vision while adding residential, office and luxury hotel components and a much-needed event space to the downtown inventory. 

"We also wanted to capture this sports and entertainment themes through the corridor all the way from the Dr. Phillips Center to Camping World Stadium," he said. "We really wanted to create this heart of the sports and entertainment district through this district."

The 8.4-acre district incorporates sites of the former Orlando Police Department headquarters, an old parking garage and the Orlando Union Rescue Mission men's shelter. The Magic's development affiliate, SED Development, paid $2.8 million over the last several years to assemble the property bordered by W. Central Boulevard, S. Hughey Avenue and W. Church Street.

Orlando City Council approved a master plan for the district in 2017, but the new conceptual plan makes several revisions. The new design switches the orientation of the office building and hotel, which now would abut Division Avenue. Martins said the new arrangement should improve traffic flow around the project.

"We flipped those based on feedback of our consultants and based on the best usage of those facilities," Martins said. 

The pedestrian plaza has also been reimagined. Instead of a single plaza facing Church Street, the new site plan creates a second plaza on the northwest corner of the project. The two areas can host separate events or be combined for a single, large event.

"In past it was focused to feed off energy of the Amway Center," Martins said. "As we met with a lot of other downtown stakeholders, we felt the project should have more connectivity to the downtown area, in particular towards UCF downtown campus, as opposed to just fronting the Amway Center."

The new proposal scales down the residential component from 450 units to 300 units, again based on market research. Martins said the development team has not selected a multifamily development partner yet, so the final design and unit composition will continue to evolve. The Magic want an emphasis on smart, sustainable design with a strong health and wellness component and security. 

The seven-story office building would feature the most advanced technologies available in the market. The Magic will occupy approximately 40,000 square feet, and the team has engaged Foundry Commercial to market the remaining 160,000 square feet.

"The intent is to do 200,000 square feet," Martins said. "If we were to get a significant tenant, we could go larger than that. 

Foundry Vice President Gabriel De Jesus said the Magic have been in discussions with the team's TV partner, Fox Sports, about relocating its studios to the district. De Jesus is also targeting technology companies, particularly in the e-gaming sector, and premium co-working operators.

"We're really focusing on companies that will bring an element that interacts well with an entertainment district," he said. "At this point, we have permission to show the renderings to specific groups, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive -- especially with new to market companies."

The office space will be unique, even among Orlando's newest Class A product. De Jesus said the strongest competition for marquee tenants will likely come from comparable downtown projects, such as Tampa's Water Street redevelopment being spearheaded by Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik.  

JLL Vice President Justin Greider will lead the retail marketing, which will focus on dining and experiential retail as opposed to "hard retail." He told GrowthSpotter he's previewed the project to a handful of select vendors in advance of the formal campaign launch.

"This project is more of a place to be and to do things, as opposed to a place to shop," Greider said. "A lot of tenants who have not been interested in downtown will be interested because this is a totally different offering than anything that's ever been available in downtown Orlando."

He expects to follow the example of recent sports and entertainment districts, like Battery Atlanta at the Braves' SunTrust Park, by focusing on vendors that complement and feed off the energy of the pedestrian plaza. 

"What we expect to see is a similar line-up of tenants that include high quality dining, some great, unique local concepts and some strong national brands you haven't seen in the Orlando market yet," Greider said. 

One element of the design that sets the Orlando project apart from other mixed-use districts is the easily accessible, structured parking, Martins said. The office building alone will have three parking spaces for every 1,000 square feet of leasible space.

"This area of downtown has a strong demand for parking, so I think this will serve the areas’ component, but also will replace some of what was lost due to construction of I-4," he said.

The parking garage will be able to accommodate 2,400 vehicles, and it will be designed with a mobility plaza for transit and ride sharing services. The garage will even have spaces designed specifically for autonomous vehicles.

"The parking is one of the things they’ve gotten right in the design of this component," Greider said. "Getting in and out and parking garage is going to be really easy for people." 

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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