- Orlando-based Unicorp National Developments is planning a $1 billion mixed-use project near Walt Disney World, according to Orlando Weekly. The 82-acre O-Town West development is one of the largest in decades in the predominantly tourist area.
- Unicorp President Chuck Whittall told the Orlando Sentinel that the project's signature feature will be a boardwalk — lined with shops and restaurants — overlooking a water fountain show similar, according to Orlando Weekly, to the one at the Bellagio resort in Las Vegas and to a former Orlando tourist attraction called Dancing Waters. The O-Town Village section of the development will include 100,000 square feet of retail, 15,000 apartments, up to 400 single-family homes, as well as a dog park and jogging trails, all overlooking a Crystal Lagoon.
- A new Interstate 4 interchange is expected to be built to handle traffic to the development. Whittall told the Sentinel that permitting for the O-Town project could take up to a year and said construction could begin in 2020.
The O-Town project is not Walt Disney World-related but is part of the development that the Orlando area has seen since Walt Disney roots and built his namesake theme park in Central Florida. While Disney was the catalyst for growth in the Orlando area, developers are trying to tap into some of that family amusement park magic in an effort to boost activity at their existing businesses.
This is especially true for some casinos owners that are trying to attract families and others who have interest in attractions that involve something other than gaming.
In a $1.5 billion expansion of its Hard Rock hotel and casino in Hollywood, Fla., the Seminole Tribe of Florida is adding a live performance venue and a Bora Bora-themed beach club experience with private cabanas, plunge pools, waterfalls and underwater rooms.
Similarly, Wynn Resorts is building a $1.5 billion resort next to its Las Vegas casino with a white-sand beach and a boardwalk at the edge of a 20-acre lake in order to attract those who don't gamble.
Then there are attractions that need a little help from other attractions.
Last year, Urban Commons, which manages the Queen Mary attraction in Long Beach, Calif., announced plans to add a $250 million, Gensler-designed development around the ship. The Queen Mary Island project includes a boardwalk, marina, hotel, amphitheater, 150,000-square-foot Urban Adventure and 700,000 square feet of retail geared toward attracting more visitors and helping to fund a five-year upgrade and repair program for the historic ship.