by Jacki Mick
Today, the Orlando Business Journal reported on proposed plans to put a 31-story megamall on International Drive. The proposal calls for demolishing the International Shoppes strip mall at the corner of I-Drive and Kirkman. It'd be a great location for the fly-and-never-drive-around-the-city tourists, as it's already home to a stop on the I-Drive Trolley line, and the imaginary megamall's nine-story parking garage would lessen the strain to find parking. It won't do a thing about the traffic, though.
“The purpose of this project is to create a high-end destination for out-of-town travelers that offers a wide array of diverse activities in one location, while also providing shopping, dining and recreation possibilities for local residents,” city documents said.
Right now, the strip mall houses a Billabong Surf Warehouse, Casual Male XL, Subway and various other small businesses, including Pio Pio, which we really hope relocates (or moves in!). If the plans are accepted by the city, the new complex would feature a food court, ice-skating rink and, at the very top, a fancy-pants rotating restaurant. (Just call us "Top of the World"!) Combine this with over 160,000 square feet of retail space, 48,000 square feet of meeting rooms and 1,200 hotel rooms and we've got a potential boon to both Florida's tourism industry and job market. The OBJ estimates that the complex could bring thousands of jobs to the Orlando area.
The project is supposed to go before the city's municipal planning board in June. We'll let you know how it goes.