Orlando Magic entertainment complex taking shape - FOX 35 News Orlando

Orlando Magic entertainment complex taking shape

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ORLANDO, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35 ORLANDO) -

The Orlando Magic are giving more plans to the city about exactly what they plan to do with a 2-block area they will buy from Orlando and convert into a hotel, residential, and entertainment complex.

The team appeared before the city's Municipal Planning Board and gave a lengthy set of plans to that board for what comes next.  Magic CEO Alex Martins tells FOX 35 the first things to be demolished will be the city's parking garage and the Orlando Police Department's radio communications tower.  That tower will have to be rebuilt simultaneously, and Martins says being on the block with OPD makes the arrangements much more complicated.

"It's a pretty complex deal. You know the police headquarters is going to stay in place for the next few years, so we have to create a lease back arrangement to the city since we are going to own the land on which the police headquarters sits."

The plans show the project broken into phases with the first part being a parking garage on the northwest corner of the property to replace the one they will tear down. Martins says after that, the next portion will be building the team's new downtown headquarters. 

"A lot of people don't recognize when we moved into the Amway Center, a lot of our staff didn't move in with us. We only have about 20 percent of our staff here in the Amway Center, the majority of which is our basketball staff."

The plans show a grand, open plaza, where struggling retail stores sit now.  Martins hopes it will be a gathering place for events at both the Amway Center and new soccer stadium.  He  says there will be plenty of dining and entertainment options there as well.

"I call it the thirties-something entertainment.  You know, we've got a lot of entertainment for our 18 to 22-year-olds in downtown Orlando, but for guys like me and my wife, and thirty-somethings and forty-somethings, we would like to see more."

The rest of the project will take years to complete as the city and team try to work out the move of OPD headquarters to the old Lynx bus depot off of Orange Blossom Trail, between South and Anderson streets.  Once that is complete, the Magic can then build a hotel and conference center on one corner, and an 18-story residential tower on the corner of W. Central Blvd. and N. Hughey Ave.

Martins hopes the entire project will transform downtown in the same way planners imagined when the Amway Center was built.

"We thought that was what the Amway Center was going to do for downtown Orlando and for the west side of downtown, but unfortunately, we hit the recession just as we opened the doors to the Amway Center.  Unfortunately, that redevelopment has not begun.  Now this is the spark that can really ignite that redevelopment."

The team hopes to start demolition of the old parking garage by this summer with Phase I being finished in 2016, but Martins stresses the entire project is likely to take at least five  years.

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