Orange County might give Universal Orlando $5 million towards new theme park

Orange County

There’s a chance Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings could vote to spend up to $5 million for helping Universal Orlando build their upcoming Epic Universe theme park. With this proposed deal, Orange County would give Universal Orlando up to $5 million in credits against future utility connection charges to help the company with the cost of relocating an existing wastewater pipeline.

Universal Orlando needs to relocate the line as part of the construction of Epic Universe, which would be its third theme park. Construction of the new park, which was initially slated to open in 2023, has been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.

County commissioners have already agreed to give Universal as much as $125 million to help pay for a new road through the property. Orange County officials said Universal Orlando representatives came to the county with the plan to share the cost of relocating the pipeline. County staffers said the deal will save the county from incurring other easement, design and engineering consulting charges, and that the agreement is broadly “in the public interest.”

“Orange County has determined the developer’s improvements will provide certain public benefits including, but not limited to, enhanced tax revenues, enhanced wastewater fees, and increased employment opportunities,” Raymond Hanson, Orange County’s director of utilities, wrote in a memo recommending the mayor and commissioners approve the $5 million deal.

Universal spokesman Tom Schroder said the agreement means Universal will end up replacing a 35-year-old existing utility pipe “that would have to be replaced at some point anyway.”

“We will spend between $13 million and $14 million to provide the materials and do the work and receive $5 million in future impact fee credits,” Schroder said. “This is frequently how the county gets developers to help replace aging infrastructure.”

Source: Orlando Sentinel

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Kevin Koszola