Universal and City Hall vs. Skyplex: the Saga Contunues

track1aWhen only a year ago, Wallack announced plans to construct the world’s tallest roller coaster as the centerpiece of Skyplex complex on International Drive, the project was praised by owners of local companies that hope it would draw more tourists.
Twelve months later, the future of the world’s tallest roller coaster is in doubt, thanks to opposition led by neighboring Universal Orlando, which says the proposed 570-foot Skyscraper, featuring a 450-foot drop, is not only too tall, but would adversely change the culture of the tourist corridor.
Last month, the Orange County Planning and Zoning Commission voted 4-3 against the proposal for the $500 million entertainment complex and the commission denied Skyplex’s request.
The denial came even though two months earlier the Federal Aviation Authority approved the project. Skyplex got a positive recommendation from county support staff as well. With less than a month before a final vote, Skyplex was the subject of a community meeting planned for November 12. The meeting was held at the Wyndham Orlando Resort on International Drive.
The meeting was attended by Peter Latham, Attorney representing Universal Orlando and Melanie Becker, Government Realations for Universal Orlando. Neighbours and interested parties were also invited to attend the meeting. About two dozen residents and Orange County business leaders were present.
Questions such as height, zoning, traffic congestion, dark skies and water runoff were discussed again and it was clear the two Universal representatives came to the meeting to rehash the same old issues.
Universal officials said the roller coaster and tower do not fit the neighborhood they would be built in. At the same time Joshua Wallack, Skyplex’s developer replied the theme park management is trying to squash competition. Universal, under Orlando ordinances, has a height limit of 200 feet for all of its attractions and buildings.
Skyplex supporters, residents from Tangelo Park and other I-Drive neighborhoods near the project’s site, said “Skyplex is not going to be Universal’s competitor” and neither is Orlando Eye. They said “the real competitor to Universal and all other attractions” is Las Vegas. Brett Kingstone, an Orlando developer said building the Skyscraper as the world’s tallest roller coaster was important for driving tourists in the area.
Along with the world’s tallest roller coaster, Skyscraper, the Skyplex complex will include a 450-foot SkyFall drop tower, a 350-room hotel, a state-of-the-art open-air plaza, 333,000 square feet of entertainment space, more than 95,000 square feet of general retail and nearly 40,000 square feet of restaurant space.
Skyplex will appeal its case to Orange County’s Board of County Commissioners December 1.