Orlando gives backers 3 more years to build city’s biggest park
August 18, 2011, 1:55 am
Orlando’s biggest park was supposed to open two weeks ago, but now unfortunately it might not be finished for three more years. Under a deal with the city, the developers of Lake Nona donated the land and planned to build the park on the south end of the sprawling development in southeast Orlando. The bad news is that the park, like much of the country, has fallen victim to the housing slump.
The agreement approved four years ago required the park to open by Aug. 6, 2011, or within a year after the developer built the 1,000th home in Lake Nona South, whichever came first. It was lauded as a win-win deal: Lake Nona would have an amenity to promote to would-be home buyers, and City Hall would get a park long before taxpayers could afford to build one. Park improvements would cost as much as $8 million, with the city reimbursing half in the form of long-term tax rebates. The problem is that the deal was agreed upon before the economic meltdown.
How many of those 1,000 homes have been built in Lake Nona’s southern section? “Right now, we don’t have any,” Lake Nona Co. president Jim Zboril said Tuesday. “We still want to do the park. It’s just that we want the timing to match the residential development.” Over the objection of one member, the City Council recently agreed and extended the deadline to give developers another three years.