With several major projects on tap for the International Drive area of Orlando (known as I-Drive), the area is becoming a true live/work/play model. Over the last 2 years many projects have began in the area including over 1,000 new apartments, 1 million square feet of new office, hundreds of thousands of new SF of retail space, and over 1,000 new hotel rooms. On top of this the new Orlando Eye (similar to the London Eye), new Sea Life Aquarium, and other smaller tourist options.
One would think with all of this development the area would be not only buzzing but be plateauing. That’s not the case. Here’s a quick look at the map I created last year with an overview of just the announced projects in 2013. Also keep in mind I only noted the larger ones. There have been dozens of other smaller projects in the area as well.
Now consider a few of the major projects announced in 2014.
- I-Drive Mega Mall and hotel complex estimated to be 30 stories tall
- New $350 million + MagLev train that will connect convention center to airport and loop around I-Drive
- Hyatt House Hotel
- New $30 million boutique hotel
- $50 million Mango’s Tropical Cafe and mixed use retail restaurant complex
- Tallest Roller Coaster in the world, new 50 story Polar Coaster
Even if half of these projects get built (Mall, MagLev train, and Polar Coaster are in design phase, everything else is pretty much a done deal or under construction), the area is going to change dramatically, ushering in a new and updated tourism corridor.
In doing so, Orlando is reinventing itself slowly unwinding its image of being a cheap vacation. With the Four Seasons opening this year and the Peabody selling to the Hyatt for $750 million, the city is going upscale in its quest to remain the most popular city to visit in the world.
And of course there is an angle for investors looking for real estate opportunities. With more people visiting Orlando than any other city, Orlando has done a great job marketing itself for relocation. Over the last 3 years Orlando has been in the top 5 cities for both job and population growth creating yield and great upside for those seeking exposure to housing investment.