by Ken Storey
The tourist district is seeing plenty of growth with new hotels, attractions and shopping complexes in various stages of development, but what was once a place locals steered clear of, the area quickly becoming a legitimate place for locals to live, work and play.
Universal Boulevard, on the backside of the Orange County Convention Center and I-Drive 360, has over 1,000 new apartment units in the works. The Courtney at Universal Boulevard complex recently filed plans with Orange County for a 344-unit second phase, known as The Addison at Universal. The Addison at Universal will be the sister property to The Addison on Millenia, a 292-unit development just north of the tourist district, that is currently under construction.
The Courtney’s first phase, with 355 units, opened less than two years ago. It’s part of over 1,500 new apartment units to open in the tourism district within the last three years alone. Altogether the tourism district currently has over 7,000 apartment units in it.
Just up Universal Boulevard from The Addison at Universal is yet another new apartment development, the Alexan at Universal. The Alexan will
have 656 luxury units. Both Alexan and Addison are near the nearly 500 acres Universal Studios has been prepping to development along Universal Boulevard. That property is zoned for multiple uses including theme parks, hotels and apartments. Universal has yet to confirm what it plans to do with that property.
While Universal Boulevard has seen the majority of the growth lately, the SeaWorld submarket is helping make the tourism district a legitimate
living option for locals as well with its own ever-increasing selection of options. Axis West, a 12 acre 268-unit development on Westwood Boulevard, will open its first phase by the end of this year. In-between Westwood Blvd. and I-Drive the former Marriott Grande Pines Golf Course is currently being redeveloped into a mixed-use development that will eventually see 782 apartment units along with 436 single-family and townhome units. Just across Westwood Boulevard, an almost 9-acre lakefront lot is currently going through approval for an 80-unit luxury condo development.
Other various apartment developments are quickly rising in this area of town where locals used to not dare be seen. With an impressive amount of job growth, a growing number of high-quality dining options and an endless supply of entertainment the I-Drive tourist district is quickly shaking its tourist only vibe and is becoming a hotspot for locals.