ORLANDO, Fla. — A new project is about to take shape in the Dr. Phillips area, one which developer Chuck Whittall says will be nothing short of spectacular.
- Construction on development O-Town West begins this fall
- $1B development to be built west of I-4, SeaWorld Orlando
- Project will include 1,600 apartments, office space, boardwalk
- More Orange County stories
“We’re trying to do all sorts of cool things and bring new concepts here to Florida that haven’t existed in the past," Whittall said.
Whittall's new project is O-Town West, a $1 billion development at Daryl Carter Parkway and Palm Parkway, west of Interstate 4 and SeaWorld Orlando. Construction on the project begins this fall.
The developer said that the project, which includes 1,600 apartments, office space, and a massive boardwalk dotted with restaurants and retail, should take about 18 months to complete.
“The nucleus of the project will be the water show," Whittall explained. “That will be the driving force of the project.”
The lifelong Winter Park developer has already put his stamp on The City Beautiful, especially along International Drive, from high-flying swings to the iconic Orlando Eye, recently renamed The Wheel.
After all, Whittall says, borrowing from "Field of Dreams": "If you build it, they will come."
“It’s needed because Central Florida is booming," he said. "Everywhere you go, everything is under construction."
Ceiling in sight for Orlando development?
But in a place with a seemingly endless array of things to do, is there a ceiling for fun?
No, said UCF Rosen College of Hospitality Management Professor Dr. Kevin Murphy.
“I think in Central Florida, with the ability to expand in all directions, the attitude is that it’s kind of unlimited," Murphy explained. He added that Central Florida has several trends working in its favor and propelling growth, such as a population moving from north to south and a psychographic trend, the draw of an outdoor lifestyle.
In addition, close to 75 million tourists made a stop in Orlando last year.
“When I first moved here in 2003, there was officially 75 theme parks and attractions. Now there’s over 110," Murphy said. “From a development standpoint, it’s jobs, it’s more taxes, more revenue."
Murphy said that in the short term, dips in the economy could slow the rapid growth. In the long term, changing climate and weather patterns could impact development.
Until that happens, however, it’s full steam ahead for developers like Whittall.
"We try to design high-end and offer you an experience," Whittall told us, talking again about O-Town West. “It’s going to be the coolest apartment complex, I think, in the state."