International Drive’s $200 million Skyplex project is expected to be a huge tourism booster for Central Florida.

At a June 5 announcement, Mango’s Tropical Cafe executives who are behind the project said the 495,000-square-foot entertainment and retail complex has the potential to draw several million visitors a year to I-Drive, a popular tourism corridor in southwest Orlando.

The complex — to be built at the southeast corner of Sand Lake Road and I-Drive — will feature a 570-foot-tall observation tower and vertical roller coaster attraction called Skyscraper. It’s reportedly the tallest coaster in the world and will go 65 mph.

The complex also will have a parking area, restaurant and event space, arcades and several retailers that may include major New York City brands such as Adidas Y-3, executives told OBJ.

“This is the I-Drive of the 21st century,” said Joshua Wallack, co-owner and COO of Mango’s Tropical Cafe. “We have the hotels, Pointe Orlando, the new restaurants, and now we have I-Drive 360, Skyplex and Mango’s.”

Even if only 250,000 tourists travel to I-Drive annually to see the Skyplex and then spend a day on the corridor, that could mean nearly $150 million in new business for Central Florida.

In addition, Wallack said the 12-acre project will create more than 500 new jobs, including food and beverage, retail and entertainment.

“This is a great addition and should be huge for I-Drive,” said Chuck Whittall, president of Unicorp National Developments Inc., who isn’t involved in the Skyplex project. Unicorp currently is building the $200 million I-Drive 360 entertainment complex set to open in 2015, which is across Sand Lake Road from Skyplex. That project includes a 425-foot observation wheel.

Both Whittall and Wallack told OBJ the two projects would complement each other rather than competing, by attracting I-Drive guests to see both attractions and stay longer on the tourist corridor.

Angel de la Portilla, president with Central Florida Strategies, said the addition of Skyplex shows that International Drive is in the midst of an investment boom. To date, de la Portilla said there’s nearly a half-billion dollars in new construction investment being injected into the corridor that will revitalize the region.

The Skyplex project is slated to begin construction in 2015 and be completed by 2016.

Source: The Orlando Business Journal
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