by Jacki Mick
Earlier this year, we reported on plans to build a new megamall on International Drive. Yesterday city commissioners approved the project, called the iSquare Mall + Hotel. Originally slated to stand 31 stories tall, the approved plans call for a 26-story hotel with more than 700 hotel rooms. In addition to lodging, the plans for the mall also feature upscale shopping and restaurants (no names have been released yet, but one of the restaurants will be rotating!), 100,000 feet of convention space, a live performance theater, observation decks, multiple pools, an ice-skating rink and a helipad. You know, for those times when I-Drive traffic is simply too much of a bitch to deal with.
The project, located at the intersection of I-Drive and South Kirkman Road, is estimated to cost between $300 million and $400 million, and is projected to create thousands of jobs.
I-Drive is getting its share of new attractions in the coming years, beginning with the opening of Artegon in October of this year. Also joining the busy tourist corridor will be the Orlando Eye (a giant "observation wheel" that's part of the I-Drive 360 entertainment complex) in 2015, followed by the Skyscraper, the world's tallest roller coaster, slated to open in 2016.
Here's another view of the planned megamall, slated to open in 2017, from the iSquare Mall + Hotel's Facebook page: