Unicorp will build a new billion-dollar, Bellagio-style development near Disney World

Unicorp will build a new billion-dollar, Bellagio-style development near Disney World
Image via Unicorp
Coming off their success of I-Drive 360, Unicorp just unveiled details of their latest project, O-Town West.

The new $1 billion, 82-acre development will be one of the largest in the tourist district in decades. Located at the corner of Palm Parkway (which turns into Turkey Lake Road just north at the next major intersection) and Daryl Carter Parkway, O-Town West is expected to do to that area what Mall at Millenia did to Conroy, so naturally a new interchange is expected to be built off I-4 to accommodate the traffic.

With 100,000 square feet of retail, the Village at O-Town West will provide essential day-to-day shopping, such as a grocery store, in an area of town that is mostly focused on tourism retail. A 15,000-unit multi-family apartment complex with multiple buildings is planned, along with 300 to 400 homes that will range from $300,000 to nearly $1 million.

The homes and the apartments will overlook a recreational lagoon created by Miami-based Crystal Lagoons, who are building a similar lagoon for a new development in Lake Nona. The tropical-focused amenities for residents are similar to ones found at Kissimmee’s Margaritaville Resort.

Also like Margaritaville, O-Town West will feature a tourist-friendly retail village, known as the Boardwalk at O-Town West. It’ll feature new-to-the-market dining and retail tenants, similar to Margaritaville’s Rascal Flatts and Bahama Buck’s Shaved Ice. Many of the restaurants will overlook a lagoon where a large fountain show will take place.

Unicorp spokespeople have called the fountain show "Bellagio-style" and compared it to the Dancing Waters attraction that was popular here in Orlando in the 1970s and '80s. A 600-space parking structure will help ensure there’s plenty of parking at the complex.

The project sounds very similar to one that Unicorp proposed for Universal Boulevard, directly behind I-Drive 360. There, hotels and restaurants were planned with a lagoon where a massive fountain show would take place throughout the day and evening. The status of that project hasn’t been updated in some time, and the indications are that it might have changed due to other nearby projects that are now in the works.

Initially, I-Drive 360 was to have a large fountain show, but the scale of the fountains and other water features was greatly reduced as the project supposedly hit financial issues regarding the observation wheel, now known as the Coca-Cola Orlando Eye.

Unicorp has used the Eye and other attractions, including a Starflyer and zipline (which is in development), as a way to draw crowds to I-Drive 360. Over at O-Town West, they plan less touristy draws, instead focusing on digital signage along I-4 and the fountains as the main draw.

Unique retail is also designed to attract guests, a ploy that has had mixed success at I-Drive 360. Some tenants there, like Tin Roof, have become extremely popular spots for locals and tourists alike, while others, like Cowgirls and Sugar Factory, are nearly empty many nights. O-Town West is still very early in development so there are no details on what the tenants will be when the project opens.

Permitting for the massive development is expected to take upward of a year, with groundbreaking expected early next year and a mid-2020 grand opening.

In the meantime, Unicorp is focused on a $100 million Phase 2 at I-Drive 360 that will include a zipline stretching from the parking garage to the central courtyard, a ropes course over top of the southern buildings, a five-story apartment building with a rooftop pool overlooking the Eye, and a third tower-based thrill ride. Expect more details on the thrill ride later this year.

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