Amway A Tough Sell

While the city of Orlando, Fla., waits for construction to be completed on its new Events Center, city officials have come to terms with the possibility that the old Amway Arena may sit dark on some 60 acres of prime downtown real estate for some time before it’s either sold or demolished.

That’s the word from Orlando Sentinel business columnist Beth Kassab, who writes the city could have an empty arena taking up space for “years, if not a decade, to come.”

It’s not just homeowners stuck with unwanted property in a down real estate market. Developers who once wanted to turn the property into a “Creative Village” now balk at the price tag the city needs to make up for the $90 million in credit it leveraged with the property to finance the new arena.

“The current and near-term economic reality is that you are looking at 50 to 60 acres of developable land with a pretty big price tag on it, and there aren’t any developers with the pocketbook for that right now,” developer Craig Ustler told the paper. “Based on current demand, you cannot support a reasonable mix of education, commercial, office, residential and public uses.”

Making the Amway Arena site redevelopment an even trickier proposition is the fact that a swath of condos, retail and office space was just built in the city during the now fizzled real estate boom of the past decade.

The “Creative Village” proposal also includes residential, office, retail and green space. But previous building has created a glut of such properties, and throwing more into the market would serve only to lower the already tanking value of the ones already in play.