State and county transportation officials have called a public meeting Nov. 8 gather feedback and show possible routes for extending Kirkman Road (State Road 435) for Universal Orlando’s new theme park expansion.
The meeting will be from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Orange County Convention Center, West Concourse, 9800 International Drive, Room W315.
Universal has acquired more than 1,000 acres for expansion in the area — property which it had sold off years ago. Speculation has been rampant that the new park could carry Nintendo or Dreamworks themes, like Mario Bros., Legends of Zelda or Shrek. That would be in addition to Universal’s current parks in Orlando: Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure and Volcano Bay water park.
Once built, the new theme park would put Universal in a more competitive postion with Disney World. That’s because Universal would be more able to keep people in its parks for extended stays or long weekends, which is something Disney has been doing for decades in Orlando, especially since it added Animal Kingdom in 1998.
But getting people from the existing Universal theme parks to the new expansion territory could pose a challenge, and the extension of Kirkman Road is part of that problem.
Previously, Orange County and the Florida Department of Transportation have been quiet about any specific planning process for infrastructure to accommodate the new theme park, although minutes of public meeting show that public officials have had discussions about acquiring property for Kirkman Road with Universal’s lobbyist, John McReynolds, and Universal executive Brad Goeb.
“The County, FDOT and Universal have been in discussions regarding this potential extension,” said county spokeswoman Doreen Overstreet, in an email. “We currently don’t have agreements between all interested parties as to the respective roles and responsibilities associated with the project.”
She said the county expects to have a clearer picture of timing in the coming months, and the county hasn’t clearly defined all of the approvals that will be necessary for the road.
Technically, the extension of Kirkman will run from Carrier Drive on the north down to Universal Boulevard at the south end — wrapping around the east side of the Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control Plant.
“We currently don’t have agreements between all interested parties as to the respective roles and responsibilities associated with the project,” Overstreet wrote.
The theme park giant has started rolling out plans for its new property, including 530,000 square feet of warehouse space and 94,000 square feet of office space along Sand Lake Road, just east of Lockheed.
Universal hasn’t provided any further comment on its plans. The office and warehouse construction could be to move existing offices and storage, freeing up land around Universal Studios Orlando and Islands of Adventure. Or it could be to support the new theme park that would be just south of there.
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